The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. Mrs. He was fond of him in the abstract." "Considering there are eight old colours left. His third remark was of a practical nature. Marjory gave tongue again." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail." she muttered truculently through it. He might get his third. "I bet he gets in before you. Last year he had been tried once or twice. The door opened. I bet he does. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. In face."Wrykyn will do him a world of good." he said. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. Bob disdained to reply. This year it should be all right. Jackson intervened. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays." "We aren't in the same house. and the missing member of the family appeared. you little beast. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. he was curiously like his brother Joe." This was mere stereo." The aspersion stung Marjory. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. "sorry I'm late. He was a sound bat. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. "Anyhow. That's one comfort. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. Mike Jackson was tall for his age." was his reference to the sponge incident. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. Mike was her special ally. but preferred him at a distance. anyway. if he sweats." she said. "Hullo." she said. His figure was thin and wiry." Bob was in Donaldson's. "Go on with your breakfast. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's." said Bob loftily. Marjory. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. who had shown signs of finishing it. Marjory. . though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. "All right. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much.

"All the boys were there. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. Mike put on his pads. Jackson believed in private coaching. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. what's under that dish?" "Mike." he said. Mike was his special favourite. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. Saunders. and every spring since Joe. It was a great moment. In Bob he would turn out a good. Mr. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. suddenly drew a long breath. was engaged in putting up the net. Whereat Gladys Maud. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. the professional. obliged with a solo of her own composition. assisted by the gardener's boy. "Mike. "Good. you're going to Wrykyn next term." "Is he." shouted Marjory. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama." began Mr. put a green baize cloth over that kid. as follows: "Mike Wryky. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon." From Ella. But he was not a cricket genius. Mike Wryky. Joe's style. So was father. the eldest of the family. ages ago. but the style was there already." she said. Saunders." groaned Bob. you know. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. sound article. "I say. with improvements. Gladys Maud Evangeline."I say. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. you're going to Wrykyn. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. somebody. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. "Mike. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. like Mike. Mike looked round the table. The strength could only come with years. in six-eight time. There was nothing the matter with Bob." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. "Mike. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term." From Phyllis." "Oh. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. aged three.

It would be a record if he did. "Next term!" he said. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. He's got as much style as Mr. There's a young gentleman. and nineteen perhaps. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. but I meant next term. it was all there." Marjory sat down again beside the net. Saunders." Saunders looked a little doubtful. only all I say is don't count on it. miss."School team. and that's where the runs come in. as she returned the ball. Joe's got. perhaps. That's what he'll be playing for. it's this way. You know these school professionals. a sort of pageant. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste." As Saunders had said. I don't. and it stands to reason they're stronger. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. isn't he? He's better than Bob. you see. especially at . Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. in a manner of speaking. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. Going to a public school. every bit. miss. you see. I'm not saying it mightn't be. miss. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. Saunders?" she asked. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. "Well. we'll hope for the best. miss. with Master Mike. It's all there. Still. he was playing more strongly than usual. too." "No." "But Mike's jolly strong. It's quite likely that it will." "Ah. What are they like?" "Well. miss. didn't he. Don't you think he might. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. miss." said the professional. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. and watched more hopefully. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. Saunders? He's awfully good. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. I was only saying don't count on it." "Yes. The whole thing is. "He hit that hard enough. Ready. Master Mike? Play. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. To-day. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive.

a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. with rather a prominent nose. According to Bob they had no earthly. Bob. Bob. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. He was excited. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. there was Bob. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. nor profound. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. in his opinion. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. The air was full of last messages. but then Bob only recognised one house. Mothers. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. and now the thing had come about. Phyllis. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. was on the verge of the first eleven. He had a sharp face. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. While he was engaged on these reflections. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. and his reflections. Mr. was to board the train at East Wobsley.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. his magazines. The latter were not numerous. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. and Mrs. by all accounts. smiling vaguely. the train drew up at a small station. in time to come down with a handsome tip). and carried a small . and he was nothing special. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. however. The train gathered speed. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. Gladys Maud cried. the village idiot. And as Marjory. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. frankly bored with the whole business. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. is no great hardship. He was alone in the carriage. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga.the beginning of the summer term. He wore a bowler hat. Donaldson's. Meanwhile. On the other hand. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. though evidently some years older. It might be true that some day he would play for England. Mike was left to his milk chocolate.

but.portmanteau. Judging by appearances. He was only travelling a short way. he seemed to carry enough side for three." "No chance of that." said Mike to himself. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. I regret to say. instead. then. "Porter. and at the next stop got out. He realised in an instant what had happened. after all. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. stared at Mike again." "Because. sir. If he wanted a magazine. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. Mike acted from the best motives. Besides. The other made no overtures. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. He seemed about to make some remark." "Thank you. got up and looked through the open window. and finally sat down. The trainwas already moving quite fast. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. but." "Here you are. He opened the door. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. lying snugly in the rack. The fellow had forgotten his bag. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. And here. you know. and took the seat opposite to Mike. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. sir. thought Mike. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. That explained his magazineless condition. and wondered if he wanted anything. "Good business. let him ask for it. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. He did not like the looks of him particularly. . the bag had better be returned at once. Anyhow." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. sir." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. which is always fatal. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag.

and the other jumped into the carriage. which did not occur for a good many miles. Mike grinned at the recollection." said Mike." said Mike hurriedly. "I chucked it out. looking out of the window." explained Mike." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station." he shouted. and said as much. "The fact is. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again." "It wasn't that." The guard blew his whistle. It hit a porter. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity." Against his will. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him.(Porter Robinson. escaped with a flesh wound. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. or what?" "No. "There's nothing to laugh at." said Mike. Then it ceased abruptly. "Then." said the stranger. "Have you changed carriages. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. dash it. and. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. "I thought you'd got out there for good." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. ." The situation was becoming difficult. who happened to be in the line of fire. "Don't _grin_. "Hullo. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. though not intentionally so. you little beast." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. I say. The head was surmounted by a bowler. What you want is a frightful kicking. "I'm awfully sorry. This was one of them.

Lots of things in it I wanted. They were discussing Wain's now. what happened was this." "Frightful nuisance. listening the while. I should rot about like anything. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. Gazeka!" he exclaimed." agreed Firby-Smith. By the way. rather lucky you've met. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank." "Oh. there you are. "It must be pretty rotten for him. He took up his magazine again. "Oh. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. never mind. and it's at a station miles back. and all that sort of thing. only he hadn't really. Bob." said Bob." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. Wyatt was apparently something of a character." "Naturally. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's." said Mike."Hullo. "I swear." "You're a bit of a rotter. He's in your house. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. though not aggressive. I mean. He grinned again. They'll send it on by the next train. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. "I've made rather an ass of myself. I say. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. are you in Wain's?" he said. It's bound to turn up some time." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. Mike. it's a bit thick. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term." "I mean. if I were in Wyatt's place." "Frightful. It's just the sort ." said Bob. Gazeka?" "Yes. and yet they have to be together. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. all the same. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. Good cricketer and footballer. holidays as well as term. "Hullo. thinking he'd got out. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. it's all right. He realised that school politics were being talked. then it's certain to be all right." "Oh. "I say. "He and Wain never get on very well. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard.

CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. with a happy inspiration. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. and it's the only Christian train they run. "Heaps of them must come by this line. . and a straw hat with a coloured band. Silly idea. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. Crossing the square was a short. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze." Bob looked at Mike. But here they were alone." he said. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way." he concluded airily. Mike. They'll send your luggage on later. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. Go straight on. and. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. To the man who knows. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. and lost his way. and looked about him. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. has no perplexities. See you later. and so on. I think you'd better nip up to the school. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. Plainly a Wrykynian. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. Mike made for him. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. Mike started out boldly. and tell you all about things." he said. Probably Wain will want to see you. which is your dorm. Go in which direction he would. on alighting. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. It was Wrykyn at last. leaving him to find his way for himself. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. it is simplicity itself. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. a blue blazer. all more or less straight. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. So long." Mike looked out of the window. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. Hullo. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right.of life he'll hate most." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. here we are.

are you Wyatt. please. How did you know my name." "Are you there. He's in Donaldson's. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. "You look rather lost. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. He felt that they saw the humour in things. shuffling." "Oh. You know. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. you know. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. "It was only against kids." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." added Mike modestly." said Mike." said the other. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's." said the stranger. And . it was really awfully rotten bowling. A stout fellow. So you're the newest make of Jackson." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. then?" asked Mike. Any more centuries?" "Yes." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. There's no close season for me. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective." "I know. "Hullo. "That's pretty useful. square-jawed face."Can you tell me the way to the school." said Mike. you know. "Oh." said Mike awkwardly. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers." said Mike. this is fame. you're going to the school. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. "How many?" "Seven altogether. Only a private school. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. You can't quite raise a team." he said. latest model. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. "Pity. He had a pleasant.

He was glad that he had met Wyatt. a beautiful piece of turf. thanks awfully." said Mike cautiously. Let's go in here." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. though no games were played on it.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. That's his. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. answering for himself. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. cut out of the hill. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. too. I believe. the grounds. everything." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. And my pater always has a pro. The next terrace was the biggest of all. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. He's head of Wain's." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. Mike followed his finger. I was just going to have some tea. a shade too narrow . which gave me a bit of an advantage. "He's all right. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's." said Mike." "Yes. but that's his misfortune. Look here. and took in the size of his new home. I know. "That's Wain's." he said. It's too far to sweat to Cook's." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. where. We all have our troubles. We shall want some batting in the house this term. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground." said Wyatt." said Mike. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. it's jolly big. You come along. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. They skirted the cricket field. He felt out of the picture." said Wyatt. At Emsworth. At the top of the hill came the school. down in the Easter holidays. Everything looked so big--the buildings. "I say." "All the same. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. and formed the first eleven cricket ground." "Oh. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

"Sugar?" asked Bob. "Oh." said Mike. He was older than the average new boy. all right. if only for one performance. it is apt to throw us off our balance. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. when they met. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. Beyond asking him occasionally. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. and his conscience smote him." said Mike. and his batting was undeniable. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. all right"). and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. "Thanks. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. Silence. please. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. "How many lumps?" "Two. Mike arrived." . Bob was changing into his cricket things. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. "Oh. It did not make him conceited. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. at school." "Cake?" "Thanks. There is nothing more heady than success. but Bob did not know this. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. to give him good advice. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. As a rule. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. "Well. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. Mike had skipped these years. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish.

thanks. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake." said Bob." said Mike. outraged." added Bob. Mike." he said." he said.Silence. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good." "What do you mean?" said Mike." said Bob. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. Bob pulled himself together. "I can look after myself all right." he said at length. if you don't watch yourself. You know. "You know. Look after him! Him!! M. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. of course. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. "Yes." said Mike cautiously. I'm not saying anything against you so far. "He said he'd look after you. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. Only you see what I mean. "Oh. making things worse. "What!" said Mike. Jackson. "Look here." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "Like him?" "Yes. "You've been all right up to now. and spoke crushingly. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. "It's only this. What I mean to say is. while Bob. you've got on so well at cricket." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. in the third and so on." said Bob. "I shouldn't--I mean. I should take care what . filled his cup. I'm not saying a word against you so far. "He needn't trouble.

He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. young man. A good innings at the third eleven net. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. Not that he would try to. he's an awfully good chap. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. He's never been dropped on yet. of course. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. But don't you go doing it. because he's leaving at the end of the term." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. (Mike disliked being called "young man. young man. I wanted to see you. spoke again. That youth. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. Thing is." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. "All right. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. "I promised I would. He felt very sore against Bob. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. "I've been hearing all about you. met Mike at the door of Wain's. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. "Ah. You'd better be going and changing. Don't make a frightful row in the house. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. all spectacles and front teeth." Mike shuffled. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. though. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. I've got to be off myself. He doesn't care a hang what he does. so said nothing. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself.") "Come up to my study. "What rot!" said Mike." he said. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. if you want any more tea. Stick on here a're doing with Wyatt. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. Don't cheek your ." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude." Mike followed him in silence to his study. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. it doesn't matter much for him. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. But don't let him drag you into anything. He's that sort of chap." said the Gazeka. I mean. I'm going over to the nets." "What do you mean?" "Well.

and hitting it into space every time." And Wyatt. "Is that you. "No. He sat up in bed." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. of wanting to do something actively illegal. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. I shall be deadly. if he had been at home." said Wyatt." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. Overcoming this feeling. Mustn't miss a chance like this. but with rage and all that sort of thing." "I say. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. He would have given much to be with him. he burned. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. He got out of bed and went to the window. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. wriggled out. Specially as there's a good moon.elders and betters. and the second time he gave up the struggle. he would have been out after moths with a lantern." "Are you going out?" "I am. but it was not so easy to do it. "Hullo. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. as I'm morally certain to be some day. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. and up to his dormitory to change. He opened his eyes. but he . increased. That's all. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark." said Wyatt. The room was almost light. It was a lovely night. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. too. with or without an air-pistol. or night rather. just the sort of night on which. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. Like Eric. he walked out of the room. you stay where you are. You'll find that useful when the time comes. would just have suited Mike's mood. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. So long. Wash." he said. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. Anyhow. but he had never felt wider awake. Cut along. you can't. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. by a slight sound. "When I'm caught. not with shame and remorse.

and set it going. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. Mr.. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. He had promised not to leave the house. A voice accompanied the banging. very loud and nasal. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. Field). It would be quite safe. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. perhaps. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. along the passage to the left. Food. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. There were the remains of supper on the table. Then a beautiful. the other into the boys' section.realised that he was on parole. he examined the room. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. he proceeded to look about him. He finished it. He took some more biscuits. wound the machine up. one leading into Wain's part of the house.. The next moment. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. And this was where the trouble began. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. feeling that he was doing himself well. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. He was not alarmed. and there was an end of it. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. Everybody would be in bed. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. and an apple. feeling a new man. All thought of risk left him. The soda-water may have got into his head. It was quite late now. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. Mr."_ Mike stood and drained it in. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. then. Down the stairs. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. as indeed he was. consoling thought came to him. Wain's. _". As it swished into the glass. Field actually did so. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . This was Life." And. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. turning up the incandescent light. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. To make himself more secure he locked that door. after a few preliminary chords. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. After which. Mike recognised it as Mr.

Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. This was good. It had occurred to him. "He'd clear out. just in time. the kernel of the whole thing. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. on entering the room. He stopped the gramophone. he opened the window. and reflected. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him." pondered Mike. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. and he sat up. He lay there. was that he must get into the garden somehow. and found that they were after him. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. and warn Wyatt. The main point. Wain from coming to the dormitory." thought Mike. and he'd locked one door. though it was not likely. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. "would A." The answer was simple. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. The handle-rattling was resumed. "Now what. on the other hand. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. Wain. He jumped out of bed. but he must not overdo the thing. and dashed down the dark stairs. His position was impregnable. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. and get caught. J. Then he began to be equal to it. and could get away by the other. breathless. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. It was open now. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. to date. If. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly.need to be alarmed. the most exciting episode of his life. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. he must keep Mr. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. And at the same time. Evidently his . suspicion would be diverted. Two minutes later he was in bed. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. that if Mr.

with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_." . He knocked at the door." said Mike. Wain was standing at the window. Mike. He looked like some weird bird." If it was Mr. sir. sir. sir. Wain continued to stare. "_Me_. sir. "Of course not. "Of course not. sir. a row. Jackson. I don't know why I asked. "I think there must have been a burglar in here." "A noise?" "Please. Wain hurriedly. drew inspiration from it. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. could barely check a laugh. looking out. please. Mr. in spite of his anxiety." "I found the window open." said Mike. and went in." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. He looked about him." said Mr. Mr. sir. Wain was a tall. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure." "A noise?" "A row. please. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. He wore spectacles. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. "Thought I heard a noise. of course not. "So I came down. He spun round at the knock. thin man. sir. I thought I heard a noise. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. sir!" said Mike. and. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. His hair was ruffled. Mr. "Please. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time.retreat had been made just in time. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. through which he peered owlishly at Mike." "Looks like it. All this is very unsettling. Wain. catching sight of the gramophone. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked.

"You promised me that you wouldn't get out. His knees were covered with mould. sir." said Wyatt. "Is that you. Wain. eliciting sharp howls of pain. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Wain looked at the shrubbery." cried Mike. ruminatively. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. _"Et tu. sir. I mean."He's probably in the garden. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. "Who on earth's that?" it said. "You young ass." said Mr. He felt that all was well. "Not likely. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. Jackson. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. Wain. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. then tore for the regions at the back. An inarticulate protest from Mr. as who should say. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. The moon had gone behind the clouds. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. sir." "Yes." "Perhaps you are right. There might be a bit of a row on his return. you might . He ran to the window. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked." Mr." Mr. "He might be still in the house." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. sir. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. such an ass. Mike stopped. I know. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. sir.

Exceedingly so" ." "It wasn't that. come in. I suppose. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. till Wain came along. You have been seriously injured. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. Exceedingly so." "Yes." Mr. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. "You have no business to be excited. You dash along then. sir. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. it was rather a rotten thing to do. All right." Mike clambered through the window. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. It was very wrong of you to search for him. but I turned on the gramophone. I will not have it. "It's miles from his bedroom.' Ripping it was. if you like. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas." "Please." he said. Wain was still in the dining-room. I will not have it. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. you see. "I never saw such a man." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. Wain." said Mike. "Undoubtedly so. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. and I'll go back to the dining-room. Come in at once. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. "You're a genius. Have you no sense. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. Latin and English. sir. You must tread like a policeman. He must have got out of the garden." "That's not a bad idea. you might come down too. but you don't understand. sir. The thing was. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. standing outside with his hands on the sill. I'll get back. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. so least have the sense to walk quietly. Or. Well. "But how the dickens did he hear you. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily." And Mike rapidly explained the situation." "Undoubtedly. You will do me two hundred lines." said Mr. "I couldn't find him." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone.

"sir" in public. of Donaldson's. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. At least Trevor was in the study. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. It is preposterous. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. getting tea ready." he said. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. Clowes was on the window-sill." They made it so. Both of you go to bed immediately." said Mike. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. I must be obeyed instantly. sir?" said Wyatt." "But the burglar. the other outside. one leg in the room. "Stay where you are. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. "We might catch him." he said excitedly. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. He yawned before he spoke. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. He loved to sit in this attitude. "I thought I heard a noise. sir. "I was under the impression. you will both be punished with extreme severity." "Shall I go out into the garden. you understand me? To bed at once. And. The question stung Mr. Mr. You hear me. In these circumstances. Inordinately so. "only he has got away. He called Mr. sir. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. and have a look round. preparatory to going on the river. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. hanging over space. Wain into active eruption once more. James." said Mike. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. Wain "father" in private. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. watching some one else work. "Under no circumstances whatever. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. . James--and you. Jackson? James. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes." he said.

'" "You were right there. where is he? Among the also-rans. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work." said Trevor." "My lad. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. slicing bread." said Clowes." breathed Trevor. Clowes was tall. as our old pal Nero used to remark. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. Tigellinus. Did I want them spread about the school? No." "That shows your sense. you'd have let your people send him here. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. two excess. which he was not. Where is he? Your brother. I said. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. Have you got any brothers." said Trevor." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. "Come and help. Aged fifteen. we see my brother two terms ago. and very much in earnest over all that he did. Trevor. Couple of years younger than me." said Clowes. "I said.' That's what I say." "You aren't doing a stroke. "One for the pot. But when it comes to deep thought. I mean. 'Good chap. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. you slacker. I often say to people. I say.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them.' I say. Not a bad chap in his way. Trevor?" "One. and looked sad. I should think. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school." "I withdraw what I said about your sense." "See it done." "Marlborough. I suppose it's fun to him. 'and he's all right. laddie. but can't think of Life. I have a brother myself. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. I lodged a protest. I'm thinking of Life. 'One Clowes is luxury." "Silly ass. Consider it unsaid." "My mind at the moment. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. Hence. Like the heroes of the school stories. That's a thing you couldn't do. Better order it to-day. Trevor was shorter.' At least." "Too busy. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. Cheek's what I call it. I did not. Trevor. My people wanted to send him here. "All right. If you'd been a silly ass. packing .

it's the limit. however. "Mr. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. Bob seems to be trying the first way. It may be all right after they're left. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. If I frown----" "Oh. fawned upon by masters. loved by all who know me. perhaps. which is what I should do myself. so far. My heart bleeds for Bob. We were on the subject of brothers at school. with an unstained reputation. the term's only just started. come on. It's just the one used by chaps' people. considering his cricket." "What a rotten argument. and tooling off to Rugby. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. he returned to his subject. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way." "Well?" "Look here. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. What's wrong with him? Besides. In other words. And here am I at Wrykyn." "Young Jackson seems all right. so he broods over him like a policeman. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school." "That's just it. and he's very decent. At the end of that period. but while they're there. It's all right. he is. but." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts." said Trevor. as I said. For once in your life you've touched the spot. which he might easily do. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present.up his little box. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. You say Jackson's all right. who looks on him as no sportsman. too. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us." "Why?" "Well. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. It's the masters you've got to consider. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. I've talked to him several times at the nets." "What's up? Does he rag?" ." he said. At present. I suppose." "Jackson's all right. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. courted by boys. naturally. revered by all who don't. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. But the term's hardly started yet. Now.

and which is bound to make rows between them." "He never seems to be in extra. The odds are. You'd only make him do the policeman business. But what's the good of worrying. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. too. And if you're caught at that game." "I don't know." "I know." "If you must tell anybody." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. . One always sees him about on half-holidays. Well. For instance. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. which he hasn't time for. Still. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. if Jackson's so thick with him. Besides. and. walking back to the house." Trevor looked disturbed. It's nothing to do with us. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own." "Yes. anyhow. it's the boot every time. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob." "All front teeth and side. I shouldn't think so. Better leave him alone. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that." "The Gazeka is a fool. He's asking for trouble. and does them. He's head of Wain's. tell the Gazeka. unless he leaves before it comes off. however. Let's stagger out. every other night. he's on the spot."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. that he'll be roped into it too. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it.

but. Are you busy?" "No. by Jove. It's his last. That's his look out. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's." he said. you did? That's all right. oiling a bat. I didn't mean that brother." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. W. Rather rot. I forgot to get the evening paper." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet." "Nor do I. I meant the one here. you know. Why?" "It's this way. though. being in the same house." "Oh." said Bob. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. J. that I know of. then. Only he is rather mucking about this term. "That reminds me. If Wyatt likes to risk it. I think I'll speak to him again. Bob.He found him in his study. "look here." "Not a bit." "I know. bewildered. Well?" "About your brother." "Oh. I say." "Don't blame him." "I should. I spoke to him about it. sitting up. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident." "That's all right then. "My brother. Smith said he'd speak to him." "I've done that. I hear. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. all right. He'd have more chance." . He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking." "I should get blamed." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt." "Oh. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. I think. "I say.

" "Yes.' There's a subtle difference. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. though. Henfrey'll be captain. The next moment the thing has begun. 18. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. and had beaten them. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. don't you?" "Yes. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. it's not been chucked away. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. ." He went back to his study. I was away a lot. Bob. when suddenly there is a hush. when they meet.W." "Saunders. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. even. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. he thinks. started on his Thucydides. Nearly all the first are leaving. Pretty good for his first term. Mr." "Sort of infant prodigy. I asked him what he thought of me. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence." "Better than at the beginning of the term. You have a pro. and he said. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. the pro. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. "I thought I heard it go. for years." said Trevor. Better than J. and Bob. W. I suppose he'll get his first next year. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. and you are standing in a shower-bath." "Hope so. You were rather in form." "Well. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. It is just the same with a row.s. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. anyhow. Some trivial episode occurs. I didn't go to him much this last time. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. I simply couldn't do a thing then. And. and 51. and there falls on you from space one big drop. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. at home. to coach you in the holidays. I expect.

Love to everybody. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. because I didn't get an innings." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. I hope you are quite well. and half the chaps are acting. "Your loving son. Rather decent.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches.S.W. B.W. on the back of the envelope. I had to dive for it. Bob played for the first. Still. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. "MIKE. Low down. So I didn't go in. I didn't do much.P. lengthened by speeches. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. He was in it all right. He's Wain's step-son. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. the Surrey man. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. and there was rather a row. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. I may get another shot. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. because they won the toss and made 215. only I don't quite know where he comes in. and I got bowled). together with the school choir. and 30 in a form match. The banquet. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. Rather rot. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. He was run out after he'd got ten. day.--I say. On the Monday they were public property. The thing had happened after this fashion. so I played. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. but didn't do much. Rot I call it. only I'd rather it was five bob.--Half-a-crown would do." And. Jones. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. There's a dinner after the matches on O. only they bar one another) told me about it. I believe he's rather sick about it. lasted. I wasn't in it. "P. and Spence). songs. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on.S.W. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. could you? I'm rather broke. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. as a .--Thanks awfully for your letter. so we stop from lunch to four. They stop the cricket on O. "P.

" Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. and that the criticisms were. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. the town. and Wrykyn. Wrykyn. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. This was the official programme. As a rule. When. the town. Risks which before supper seemed great. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. in the midst of their festivities. and then race back to their houses. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. till about ten o'clock. and had been the custom for generations back. The school was always anxious for a row. brainless. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. It was the custom. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. Words can be overlooked. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. Possibly. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. the school. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. show a tendency to dwindle.rule. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. for the honour of the school. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. essentially candid and personal. one's views are apt to alter. But tomatoes cannot. About midway between Wrykyn. as usual. In the present crisis. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. and turn in. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. rural type of hooliganism. therefore. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. as a rule. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. all might yet have been peace. But there were others. it was not considered worth it. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. and. accordingly. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. . which they used. and the authorities. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff.

it was no time for science. But. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. now in a solid mass. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. now splitting up into little groups. "Now then." it said. Gloomy in the daytime. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. It raged up and down the road without a pause. and stampeded as one man. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances." he said quietly. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. . "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. for they suddenly gave the fight up. Barely a dozen remained. it looked unspeakable at night. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. of whose presence you had no idea. except the prisoners. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. A move was made towards the pond. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. when a new voice made itself heard.There was a moment of suspense. at any rate at first. It struck Wyatt. The science was on the side of the school. "Let's chuck 'em in there." he said. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. while some dear friend of his. panting. He very seldom lost his temper. and then kicks your shins. By the side of the road at this point was a green. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. Wyatt. and the procession had halted on the brink. depressed looking pond. The leaders were beyond recall. but two remained. They were smarting under a sense of injury.

and vanished."What's all this?" "It's all right. The prisoner did. "All right. Butt. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. Carry on. "Make 'em leave hold of us. "You run along on your beat. understanding but dimly. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. Don't swallow more than you can help. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. and seized the captive by the arm." said Mr." said Wyatt. and suspecting impudence by instinct." "It's anything but a lark. and a splash compared with which . A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. a yell from the policeman." "Ho!" said the policeman." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. it's an execution. you chaps. A howl from the townee. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. He ploughed his way to the bank. He'll have churned up a bit. scrambled out. Butt. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. "Ho. you chaps. or you'll go typhoid. going in second. I expect there are leeches and things there." "I don't want none of your lip." said Wyatt. The policeman realised his peril too late." "Stop!" From Mr. with a change in his voice. This isn't a lark. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. are they? Come now. Mr. but you ought to know where to stop. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. whoever you are." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. Constable Butt. Butt. but if out quick they may not get on to you. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. a cheer from the launching party. a lark's a lark. young gentleman. You can't do anything here. "This is quite a private matter. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. sprang forward. That's what we are. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke.

" as they say in the courts of law." said Wyatt. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. and throws away the match. but in the present case. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). "Threw me in. Following the chain of events. and all was over. sheets of fire are racing over the country. and the interested neighbours are following their example. Butt. Wyatt. sir. we find Mr. Butt gave free rein to it. It was no occasion for light apologies. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. and. calling upon the headmaster. it has become world-famous. with others. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. with a certain sad relish. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. went to look for the thrower. "Really. sir. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. The tomato hit Wyatt. and "with them. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. Butt fierce and revengeful. "Do you know. Mr. sir.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. Mr." "Threw you in!" "Yes. Police Constable Alfred Butt. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. Butt. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. really!" said the headmaster. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. Yes. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. _Plop_!" said Mr. before any one can realise what is happening. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. having prudently changed his clothes.the first had been as nothing. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. they did. The imagination of the force is proverbial. but both comparisons may stand. I shall--certainly----" .

"I was on my beat." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. Had he been a motorist. I says to myself." he added. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. sir. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. As it was. beginning to suspect something." "I have never heard of such a thing. ''Allo. sir. with the air of one confiding a secret.' I says. Wringin' wet. Lots of them all gathered together. right from the beginning." concluded Mr. and fighting. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. according to discretion. They shall be punished. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. sir!" said the policeman." "Good-night. 'Wot's this all about.' And." "H'm--Well.' And. sir.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story." "Yes--Thank you. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. sir. sir. They all 'ad their caps on their heads." The headmaster's frown deepened. sir. too. sir. and I couldn't see not to say properly. and I thought I heard a disturbance. "Couple of 'undred. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. Good-night." "Yes. 'a frakkus. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. "I _was_ wet. They actually seized you. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. 'Why. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying." "Yes. He . sir. sir. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. Butt started it again. Mr." said Mr. I can hardly believe that it is possible. sir! Mrs. Butt. I will look into the matter at once. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. She says to me. again with the confidential air. "How many boys were there?" he asked. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten.' I says. constable. Butt promptly. I wonder?' I says.

"There'll be a frightful row about it. always ready to stop work. A public school has no Hyde Park. and not of only one or two individuals.. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. The pond affair had. They were not malicious. . astounded "Here..W. as a whole. which at one time had looked like being fatal. It happened that.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. though not always in those words. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. and crushed guilty and innocent alike.. blank. It was one vast.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter." they had said. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. however. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. There is every probability--in fact. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. and the school. he got the impression that the school. or nearly always. but for one malcontent. of course. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. When condensed. The school was thunderstruck. The blow had fallen. become public property. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. It must always. about a week before the pond episode. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. and finally become a mere vague memory. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. And here they were. and in private at that. he would have asked for their names. was culpable. expend itself in words. I say!" Everybody was saying it. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. it is certain--that. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. As it was. It could not understand it. Only two days before the O. right in it after all. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. which was followed throughout the kingdom.

intense respect for order and authority. He added that something ought to be done about it. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. that it was all rot. I'm not going to. Leaders of men are rare. a daring sort of person. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. and. on the whole. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. even though he may not approve of it. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him." "All right. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. and he was full of it." "You're rotting. Wyatt was unmoved. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. "Well.The malcontent was Wyatt. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. and probably considered himself. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. their ironbound conservatism. and that it was a beastly shame. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. and scenting sarcasm. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. It requires genius to sway a school. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. as a whole. a day-boy. He said it was a swindle." . Before he came to Wyatt." "Why not?" said Wyatt.

wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. they couldn't do much. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. I believe. what a score. "It would be a bit of a rag. They couldn't sack the whole school. "I say. nor could they! I say!" They walked on." "Not bad. If the whole school took Friday off. Are you just going to cut off." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. but." said Wyatt. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses." "That would be a start. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." "I could get quite a lot. I should be glad of a little company." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC ." "I say." "By Jove." Another pause." "I suppose so. I say. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. excited way. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. Wyatt whistling. Groups kept forming in corners apart. ragging barred. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. and let you know." said Neville-Smith after a pause." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. But only because I shall be the only one to do it." "All right." "You'll get sacked. "Do. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority."No. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith.

I can't make it out. what a swindle if he did. were empty. "It's jolly rum. trying to get in in time to answer their names. like the gravel.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you." said Brown. "I say. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. who." "So should I. I should have got up an hour later. but it had its leaven of day-boys. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. and walked to school." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. Why. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. however. I say. though unable to interfere. as a general rule. rather to the scandal of the authorities. of the Lower Fifth. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. it's just striking. A few." "So do I. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. The majority of these lived in the town. came on bicycles. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays." . Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part." "Somebody would have turned up by now. to Brown. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. saying it was on again all right. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. the only other occupant of the form-room. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late." said Willoughby. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers.W. Some one might have let us know. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. whose homes were farther away.'s day row. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. and at three minutes to nine. The form-rooms.

" he said. ." Mr. there is a holiday to-day. and the notice was not brought to me. and a few more were standing. Seeing the obvious void. And they were all very puzzled. sir." "None of the boarders?" "No. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. sir. he stopped in his stride. He was not a house-master. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Spence seated himself on the table. sir. Brown. Not a single one. Spence?" Mr. sir." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. if the holiday had been put on again. Spence." Mr. The usual lot who come on bikes." "I've heard nothing about it. Spence as he entered. as you say. here _is_ somebody. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. sir. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. as was his habit. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. sir. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries." "Have you seen nobody?" "No." "We were just wondering." "Yes. Spence pondered." "This is extraordinary. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. Perhaps. A brisk conversation was going on. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. Several voices hailed Mr. Mr. sir. "Well. we don't know. "Hullo. after all. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows."Hullo. We were just wondering. and looked puzzled. "Willoughby." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. as he walked to the Common Room. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. Spence. He walked briskly into the room. Spence told himself.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

" said Wyatt. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. with comments and elaborations. In the early afternoon they rested. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. As the army drew near to the school. He always told that as his best story. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. And the army lunched sumptuously. net practice was just coming to an end when. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. and apples. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. At the school gates only a handful were left. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. and as evening began to fall." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. as generalissimo of the expedition. singing the school song." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. "Yes.his paper. Other inns were called upon for help. the march home was started. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. it melted away little by little. They looked weary but cheerful. jam. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. It was not a market-day. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. faintly. "Anything I can do for you." the leading inn of the town. * * * * * At the school. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. Wyatt. Private citizens rallied round with bread. In addition. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. each house claiming its representatives. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. And two days later. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. At Worfield the expedition lunched. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. . fortunately. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. and he always ended with the words. please. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about.

" Wyatt was damping. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais." He then gave the nod of dismissal. they didn't send in the bill right away. "My dear chap. "I say. Finds the job too big to tackle. "Hullo. met Wyatt at the gate. and gazed at him. walking back to Donaldson's. "this is all right. "it's not over yet by a long chalk." he chuckled. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. were openly exulting. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. isn't it! He's funked it. It hasn't started yet. Now for it. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. baffled by the magnitude of the thing.Bob Jackson. But it came all . "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. The less astute of the picnickers. marvelling." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. speechless. thought the school." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. I thought he would. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. indeed." said Wyatt. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. This was the announcement. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. There was. The school streamed downstairs. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics." he said.

" said Mike ruefully. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. who was walking a little stiffly. It was a comprehensive document. He was quite fresh. The headmaster had acted. Buns were forgotten. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. "By Gad." "Thanks." said Mike. They surged round it. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. "What!" "Yes." "Sting?" "Should think it did. Rather a good thing.right. Only the bigger fellows. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. "None of the kids are in it. as they went back to the house." it began. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. You wait." he said. then?" "Rather." "Glad you think it funny. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. I notice. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. I'm glad you got off. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. To-day. and post them outside the school shop. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. as he read the huge scroll. "he is an old sportsman." "Do you think he's going to do something. He lowers all records. the school sergeant. I never saw such a man." . I was one of the first to get it." Wyatt roared with laughter. It left out little. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." said Clowes." Wyatt was right. "I don't know what you call getting off." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned.

one of the places. Fielding especially. Wyatt. But there'll be several vacancies. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra." "Oh." "Well." "An extra's nothing much." said Wyatt seriously. making a century in record time). buck up. Anyhow. Ashe. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. overcome. Any more? No. I don't blame him either. I should think they'd give you a chance. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." "I'm not breaking down." continued Wyatt. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. "it's awfully decent of you. especially as he's a bowler himself." "You needn't rot. by Jove! I forgot. captain of Wrykyn cricket. that's the lot. You'll probably get my place in the team. you're better off than I am. what rot!" "It is. nobody can say I didn't ask for it." said Mike. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. so you're all right. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me." said Mike uncomfortably." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally." "I say." * * * * * Billy Burgess. Me. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. if his fielding was something extra special." said Mike. Adams. "Or. Probably Druce. if it were me. So you field like a demon this afternoon." "I say. I thought you weren't. really. match. Still." "You don't think there's any chance of it. That's next Wednesday.C." "I should be awfully sick. incidentally. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. whatever his batting was like. was a genial giant. Don't break down.C. The present was one of the rare . like everybody else. "All right."Well. Let's see. He had his day-dreams. rather. "I'm not rotting. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. rather. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. it isn't you. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled." said Mike indignantly.

" "Right ho!.. He's as tall as I am. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack.C. Then he returned to the attack. in the excitement of the moment the M." "I suppose he is. and a better field. "I'm awfully sorry. Bill.C. match went clean out of my mind. jumping at his opportunity. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. I've dropped my stud. Wyatt found him in his study." said Wyatt. That's your trouble." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. Besides. full of strange oaths. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. "The fact is." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. For a hundred and three. like the soldier in Shakespeare. I was on the spot. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when .. That kid's good. and drop you into the river. Dropped a sitter off me to-day." grumbled Burgess.C. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. "He's as good a bat as his brother. give me a kiss." "Rot. I will say that for him. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt." "You haven't got a mind. Dash." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. "Eight. shortly before lock-up. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply.C. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. he isn't small." "Why don't you play him against the M. "Come on. There it is in the corner. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. as Wyatt appeared. and let's be friends.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. And I'd jump on the sack first.

The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. Give him a shot. how you 'discovered' M. "I'll think it over. "Just give him a trial. "All right. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. He read it.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. So long. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. Jackson." he said. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. wouldn't you? Very well. CHAPTER XIII THE M. and his heart missed a beat. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. Everything seems hushed and expectant. better . just above the W. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. then." said Wyatt. and you rave about top men in the second. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag." Wyatt stopped for breath." he said. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." "Good." Burgess hesitated." "You play him. chaps who play forward at everything. gassing to your grandchildren." said Burgess. there is a curious." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M.C.C. even Joe. B. That kid's a genius at cricket. The bell went ages ago." said Wyatt. For. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. it's a bit risky. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. His own name. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. bottom but one. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. poor kids.C. at Lord's. "You rotter. I shall be locked out. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. "Think it over. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. "You know." Wyatt got up. Wyatt. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. Better stick to the men at the top of the second.C. Burgess.

I always said it. feeling quite hollow. Master Mike. Master Joe." "Of course." he chuckled." Joe took Mike by the shoulder." said Saunders. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. when the strangeness has worn off. as Saunders had done. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. He stopped short. so that they could walk over together. I'm hanged! Young marvel." "Well. Hullo. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. "Got all the strokes. "By Jove. Three chaps are in extra. and I got one of the places.after lunch. team came down the steps. you know. "Why. "Isn't it ripping. to wait. here he is. Only wants the strength. sir." said Saunders. and then they'll have to put you in. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. Master Mike!" The professional beamed.C." he said. saw him. Saunders!" cried Mike. Mike walked across from Wain's.. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily." "Well. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. where he had changed. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. Master Mike. and stopped dead. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. I'm only playing as a sub. and quite suddenly.C. the lost. hopeless feeling left Mike. "Why. Saunders?" "He is. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . He could almost have cried with pure fright. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. isn't he. "Didn't I always say it. you'll make a hundred to-day. sir.

"Aged ten last birthday. team. and hoping that nothing would come his way. You are only ten.C. conscious of being an uncertain field. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses." "This is our star. sorry as a captain. and playing for the school. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. but he contrived to chop it away. "I never saw such a family. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground." said the other with dignity. The beginning of the game was quiet. for Joe. tried to late-cut a rising ball.C. missed it. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. almost held it a second time. It was a moment too painful for words. The wicket was hard and true. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. Burgess was glad as a private individual. still taking risks.C. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. At twenty. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. Joe began to open his shoulders. just when things seemed most hopeless. It was the easiest of slip-catches. The Authentic.C. For himself." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. dropped it. As a captain. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country.b. who grinned bashfully." "I _have_ won the toss.M. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. exhibiting Mike. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. but he is. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. relief came. and was l. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. getting in front of his wicket. The M. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. was feeling just the same. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. You wait till he gets at us to-day. Bob. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper.w. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. Saunders is our only bowler. and the pair gradually settled down. but Bob fumbled it. And. . not to mention the other first-class men. as usual. aren't you. On the other hand.

Saunders. Following out this courageous advice. total over the three hundred.The school revived. Two hundred went up. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. Then Joe reached his century. A comfortable. on the present occasion. however. things settled down. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. as usual. "Better have a go for them. A hundred an hour is quick work.C. invincible. coming in last. third-change bowlers had been put on. the first-wicket man. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. was a thoroughly sound bat. Morris. "Lobs. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. and the M." he said to Berridge and Marsh. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. the hundred and fifty at half-past. Burgess. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. against Ripton. all round the wicket. the school first pair. a little on the slow side. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. Unfortunately. was stumped half-way through the third. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. Some years before. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. After this. the end was very near. to make the runs." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. The hundred went up at five o'clock. Four after four.C. When the bell rang for the end of morning school.C. and was then caught by Mike. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. there was scarcely time. Both batsmen were completely at home." said Burgess. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. Then came lunch. but exceedingly hard to shift. was optimistic. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs.C. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. but wickets fell at intervals. and was stumped next ball. and two hundred and fifty. Runs came with fair regularity. hit two boundaries. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. I wish I was in. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. "By Jove. His second hit had just lifted the M. Joe was still in at one end. Berridge.

"That's all you've got to do. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. At the wickets. . Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. Lobs are the most dangerous. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. It was his turn next. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. five wickets were down. but they were distinctly envious. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. fumbling at a glove. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them." said Burgess. and a thin. It was the same story to-day.. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. three of them victims to the lobs. because they had earned it.. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. The long stand was followed. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. by a series of disasters. and get the thing over. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. No good trying for the runs now. "and it's ten past six.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. Mike drew courage from his attitude. and Morris. He had refused to be tempted. Stick in. as if he hated to have to do these things. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. insinuating things in the world. having done himself credit by scoring seventy." he added to Mike." All!. He wished he could stop them. He knew his teeth were chattering. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. In the second. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. At last he arrived. The first over yielded six runs. tottered out into the sunshine. he felt better. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. For a time things went well. and hit the wicket. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. Morris was still in at one end. And that was the end of Marsh. Saunders. Bob Jackson went in next. As a matter of fact. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. as usual. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. The bowler smiled sadly. and Mike. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. Twenty runs were added. He was jogging on steadily to his century. seemed to give Morris no trouble. Bob. all through gentle taps along the ground.

Sometimes a drive. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence.. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. besides being conscientious." said a voice. and you can't get out. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. It was a half-volley. Burgess continued to hit. Saunders was beginning his run. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. "Play straight. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. did not disturb him. Now. and bowled. The moment had come. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box." It was Joe. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. The next moment the dreams had come true. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. Mike grinned.." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. If so. "To leg. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. doubtless. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. but he himself must simply stay in. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. Even the departure of Morris. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. but always a boundary. . Burgess came in. Mike would have liked to have run two. which he hit to the terrace bank. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. and. On the other hand. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. skips and the jump. he failed signally." said the umpire. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. and invariably hit a boundary. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. sir.. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. He felt equal to the situation. Saunders was a conscientious man. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. just the right distance away from the off-stump. All nervousness had left him. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. sometimes a cut. The bowling became a shade loose. and Saunders. wryly but gratefully. Half-past six chimed. There was only Reeves to follow him. "Don't be in a funk. the school was shouting. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. moment Mike felt himself again. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball.

and Mike got his place in the next match. of the School House." But Burgess. who had played twice for the first eleven." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. You won't get any higher." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. jumping. match. and mid-off. Four: beat him. But it was all that he expected. First one was given one's third eleven cap. Number two: yorker." said the wicket-keeper. All was well. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. at any rate as far . as has been pointed out." Mike was a certainty now for the second. "I told you so. * * * * * So Wilkins. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. however gentlemanly. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. against the Gentlemen of the County. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. "He's not bad. They might mean anything from "Well. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. and we have our eye on you. and missed the wicket by an inch. here you are.The lob bowler had taken himself off. "I'll give him another shot. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. just failed to reach it. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. He hit out. this may not seem an excessive reward." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. "You are a promising man. It hummed over his head. Joe. That meant. Unfortunately for him.C. "I'm sorry about your nose. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank." said Wyatt. naturally.C. almost at a venture. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. Mike played it back to the bowler. to Burgess after the match." said Burgess." Then came the second colours. the visiting team. fast left-hand. "nothing. Down on it again in the old familiar way. at the last ball. dropped down into the second. as many a good man had done before him. so you may as well have the thing now. were not brilliant cricketers. Mike let it alone. Five: another yorker. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm.

C. mind you don't go getting swelled head." he said. Mike pounded it vigorously. and was thoroughly set. See? That's all. House matches had begun.C. prancing down the pitch. hit one in the direction of cover-point. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. Raikes possessed few subtleties. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. of the third eleven. and Berridge. Morris making another placid century. supported by some small change. who had the bowling. was captain of the side. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. and he and Wyatt went in first. and Marsh all passing the half-century. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. having the most tender affection for his dignity. making twenty-five. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. this score did not show up excessively. He was enjoying life amazingly. made a fuss. "Well. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. match. . and. when the Gazeka. eh? Well. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. Bob. and was then caught at cover. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick." Mike departed. The following. It happened in this way. The school won the toss. _verbatim_. as head of the house. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. bursting with fury. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. He had made seventeen. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. he waxed fat and kicked. to the detriment of Mike's character. The Gazeka. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. Run along. but Firby-Smith. with Raikes. did better in this match. For some ten minutes all was peace. Ellerby. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets." he shouted. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. Then Wain's opened their innings. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. Mike went in first wicket. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. not out. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. "Come on. went in first. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. having summoned him to his study for the bowling was concerned. as the star. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen.

Firby-Smith arrived. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel." he said.Mike. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. "What's up?" said Burgess. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. Firby-Smith did not grovel. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. miss it. "I want to speak to you. thought Firby-Smith. These are solemn moments. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. you know. "You know young Jackson in our house. The world swam before Mike's eyes. a man of simple speech. was also head of the school. a prefects' meeting." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. And Mike. shouting "Run!" and. Mike's shaft sank in deeply." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. Burgess. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. avoided him. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. cover having thrown the ball in. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. "Don't _laugh_. And only a prefects' meeting. At close of play he sought Burgess. feeling now a little apprehensive. "Easy run there. "Rather a large order. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley." Burgess looked incredulous." . and lick him. Burgess. you grinning ape!" he cried." he said reprovingly. besides being captain of the eleven." he said. "It isn't funny. chewing the insult. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. he was also sensitive on the subject.

On the other hand. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion." And the matter was left temporarily at that. were strong this year at batting.C. In the second place. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. and let you know to-morrow. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. And here was another grievance against fate. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. Bob occurred to him. the results of the last few matches." said Firby-Smith. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. It was only fair that Bob should be told. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. In the first place. he's a decent kid. as the nearest of kin. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. Besides. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. but he thought the thing over. "Well. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. match. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it.C. Bob was one of his best friends. Still. . Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. "Rather thick. Burgess started to laugh. therefore. well--Well. "Yes. and particularly the M. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. Here was he. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. but turned the laugh into a cough." "Oh." he said meditatively. I mean--A prefects' meeting. anyhow. It became necessary. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. Geddington. with the air of one uttering an epigram. look here." "He's frightfully conceited. I'll think it over.

thanks. handsome chap. You know how to put a thing nicely." continued Burgess gloomily. the man. you can. but he _is_ an ass. sitting over here. one's bound to support him." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. He came to me frothing with rage. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. At batting there was not much to choose between the two." "I suppose so. dark. Bob?" he asked. "Still----" "I know. can't you? This is me. "Busy. Have some?" "No." he said. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. "Sickening thing being run out. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. I want to see you. "Take a pew. Mike was good. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess." "Well. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. It's rather hard to see what to do.' Billy. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. you know. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. I sympathise with the kid. "Hullo. Bob." he added. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. Bob was bad. took his place." suggested Burgess. and Neville-Smith. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. "Silly young idiot. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. "Personally." said Bob. but in fielding there was a great deal. "Still. I say." . So out Bob had gone. The tall. the captain. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened." "It's awfully awkward. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. look here. I suppose if the Gazeka insists.

One cannot help one's thoughts. I don't know." he said. you know. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. "I that sort." . Look here. made him waver. Seeing Bob. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. aren't you? Well. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. he became all animation. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. having to sit there and look on. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. "Look here. you're not a bad sort. Bob. you're a pal of his. He gets right way. You must play the the old Gazeka over. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. You know. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing." said Bob." he said. "I didn't think of you. He had a great admiration for Bob. though. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. too. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith." he said. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. would it be. "Well. But he recovered himself. you know. I know. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. "Burgess was telling me. nothing--I mean. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. "Yes?" "Oh."Awful rot. "You see it now. "I say." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this." said Bob." he said." emended the aggrieved party. go and ask him to drop the business. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. is there? I mean. I'm a prefect." It was a difficult moment for Bob. I tell you what. He wants kicking." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. apart from everything else. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. "I wanted to see you. "I thought you hadn't. "Don't do that. not much of a catch for me.

after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. really." said Bob. All right then. Curiously enough. so subdued was his fighting spirit. of Donaldson's. I did run him out. "I say. he gave him to understand. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. most of all." said Mike."Well." "No. Firby-Smith. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. he felt grateful to Bob. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. and the offensively forgiving. Mike's all right. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. and unburdened his soul to him. Burton was a slippery young gentleman." and Bob waving them back." "What's that?" inquired Mike. Reflection. though without success." "Thanks. I think if I saw him and cursed him." said Burton. without interest. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. there's that. he. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. it was frightful cheek. He was a punctured balloon." "Thanks. and owed him many grudges. After all. But for Bob." "Of course it was. Still. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. . The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. Mike. fourteen years of age. He was not inclined to be critical. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. And. in the course of his address. you know. "I'm specially glad for one reason. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. of course. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. and went to find Mike. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington." "Yes. and Burton felt revengeful.

in a day or two. Not once or twice. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. too." "I say. and gradually made up his mind." And Burgess. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. yes." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing." "Thanks. He'd have been playing but for you. weighing this remark." "Good-night. * * * * * Mike walked on. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. and his decision remained unaltered. On the evening before the Geddington match."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. We wanted your batting. anyway. so that Burton. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. just before lock-up. They were _all_ beasts. Beastly bad luck." said Mike. as it were." "Hope so. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. for his left was in a sling. rather. retiring hurriedly. CHAPTER XVI . He tapped with his right hand. I suppose?" "Oh. Be all right. Burgess. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. He thought the thing over more fully during school. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. though." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. but several times. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. He kicked Burton." said Mike stolidly. Good-night. "Come in!" yelled the captain. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. some taint.54 next morning. that's bad luck. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood.

" "They're playing Geddington. Mike? I want to see a match. after an adventurous career." "Why aren't you--Hullo. I didn't see. Still. Somebody ought to look at it. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. thanks." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. It's nothing much. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect." "Never mind. Be all right by Monday. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. and. His telegram arrived during morning school. at the request of Mike's mother. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch." "H'm. Only it's away. Coming south. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. I think I should like to see the place first. . and. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. But it's really nothing. It doesn't matter a bit. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. "It isn't anything." "Doctor seen it?" "No. Uncle John. There's a second match on. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. "School playing anybody to-day. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. He had thereupon left the service. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. I'll have a look later on. mainly in Afghanistan. Now. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. really. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. what shall we do." "Hurt?" "Not much." "I could manage about that. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things.

bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. "That's Trevor. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. I didn't know that. They look as if they were getting set." "For the first? For the school! My word." "Rather awkward. Mike. it's Bob's last year. What bad luck. if he does well against Geddington. I should think. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. but he choked the feeling down. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. But I wish I ." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green." two or three times in an absent voice. and they passed on to the cricket field. but I thought that was only as a substitute. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. There are only three vacancies. I was playing for the first. Then there'll be only the last place left." "Still. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. "Chap in Donaldson's. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. I've got plenty of time. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. that. Neville-Smith. and done well." Uncle John detected the envious note. A sudden. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. as Trevor. by George!" remarked Uncle John. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob." said Mike. It was a glorious day. "Ah yes. it was this Saturday. The thing was done.Got to be done." he said enviously. and better do it as soon as possible." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. Very nice. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. I see. By Jove. Of course. they'll probably keep him in. "If he does well to-day. He's in the School House.

Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. and sighed contentedly. unskilful stroke. "Let's just call at the shop. sing out. Lunch. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting." "Not bad that." stammered Mike." said Mike. I wonder how Bob's got on." said Mike. caught a crab. Mike?" "No. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things." "Rotten trick for a boy. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. The telegram read. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. "Ye--no. They got up. "It's really nothing. recovered himself. Mike was crimson." he began. then gave it a little twist.could get in this year. "That hurt?" he asked. Can you manage with one hand? Here." After they had watched the match for an hour. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. and we'll put in there." said Uncle John. Let's have a look at the wrist. Which reminds me. "Geddington 151 for four. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. When you get to my age you need it. "Put the rope over that stump." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes." said Mike. as he pulled up-stream with strong. I badly want a pipe. "I hope you don't smoke. "That willow's what you want. . "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. but his uncle had already removed the sling." "Pull your left. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. "The worst of a school. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. Uncle John looked up sharply. let me--Done it? Good. The next piece of shade that you see. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested.

where his fate was even now being sealed." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. dash it all then.) "Swear you won't tell him. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. It had struck him as neat and plausible.. and his uncle sat up. Look here. There was an exam. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday." When in doubt." "I ought to be getting back soon. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. I won't give you away. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. Mike told it. It wasn't that. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. Mike said nothing. That's how it was. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. on. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. Only----" "Well?" "Oh.. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. well. one may as well tell the truth." Uncle John was silent. would they give him his cap? Supposing. swear you won't tell him. "May as well tell me. Lock-up's at half-past." "I won't tell him. gaping. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. let his mind wander to Geddington. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. "Jove. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. I think. while Mike. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. I was nearly asleep." . really. (This."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again.. "I know. so I thought I might as well let him. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light.

"By Jove. Neville-Smith four). "We won. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. I'm going to shove her off. eh? We are not observed. I wanted to go to sleep. thanks. It was the only possible reply. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night."Up with the anchor. Uncle John felt in his pocket. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat." Wyatt began to undress. I should think. Marsh 58." He paused for a moment. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86." said Mike. then. only they wouldn't let me. . You can tackle that rope with two hands now." "There'll be another telegram. How's your wrist?" "Oh. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. "It was simply baking at Geddington. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. as they reached the school gates. Don't fall overboard. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. "Well?" said Uncle John. "Bob made forty-eight." he said. and they ragged the whole time. and rejoined his uncle. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. Jackson 48)." Mike worked his way back through the throng. better. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. I'm done." he added carelessly. It was a longer message this time. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop.

There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. I was in at the other end. with watercress round it. Chap had a go at it. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. If he dwelt on it. had come to much the same conclusion. he would get insomnia. And. A bit lucky. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. as he lay awake in his cubicle. Beastly man to bowl to. though. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. and another chap. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. Soothed by these memories. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . to-day. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it." "Most captains would have done. He was very fond of Bob. when he does give a couple of easy chances. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. With great guile he had fed this late cut. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. He let their best man off twice in one over. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. reviewing the match that night. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Their umpire. Bit of luck for Bob. too. can't remember who. Jenkins and Clephane. off Billy. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. he fell asleep. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. he felt. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. Only one or two thirds." Burgess. No first. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. Bob puts them both on the floor. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it." "Why. Never saw a clearer case in my life." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. did he field badly?" "Rottenly."No. Ripping innings bar those two chances. Just lost them the match. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused.

of Seymour's. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street.chance of reforming. I believe I should do better in the deep. * * * * * In the next two matches." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. Bob. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the ." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. he played for the second. Trevor'll hit me up catches. I'll practise like mad. Bob figured on the boundary. This did not affect the bulk of the school. but I mean. accordingly. * * * * * His opportunity came at last." "I know. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. I hate the slips. Bob. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should." The conversation turned to less pressing topics." "Do you know. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. I know that if a catch does come. Among these was one Leather-Twigg." Bob was all remorse. "It's those beastly slip catches. Both of them were. Try it. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. drop by drop. and hoped for the day." "Well. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. About your fielding. as he stood regarding the game from afar. "Look here. As for Mike. It's simply awful. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. I could get time to watch them there. found his self-confidence returning slowly. I can't time them." "All right then. I shall miss it. I'm frightfully sorry. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. I'm certain the deep would be much better. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler.

Two days later Barry felt queer. The next victim was Marsh. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. Upstairs. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. He. He made his way there. He tried the junior day-room. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. and thought of Life. peace. and in the dingy back shop. sucked oranges. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. On the Tuesday afternoon. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep.Quiet Student. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. where he read _Punch_. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. In brief. and at the bottom of the heap. for chicken-pox. the son of the house. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. of the first eleven. the school doctor. The professional advice of Dr. however necessary such an action might seem to him. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. Shoeblossom. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. too. but people threw cushions at him." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. and also. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . entering the High Street furtively. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. at the same moment. Marsh. He had occasional headaches. He tried out of doors. disappeared from Society. Essentially a man of moods. and. what was more important. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). Shoeblossom came away. was called for. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. squealing louder than any two others. would be Shoeblossom. Where were his drives now. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. G. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. and returned to the school. Oakes. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. who was top of the school averages. he was attending J. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him.

and the school. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. but nobody except Wyatt. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. The weather may have had something to do with it. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. and was not out eleven. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly.elect. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. going in fourth wicket. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. Too old now. But on this particular day. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. and Mike kept his end up. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. I've got the taste in my mouth still. And I can square them. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. three years ago. doubled this. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. Some schools do it in nearly every match. "Well. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. Got through a slice. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. I remember. batting when the wicket was easier. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. when Wain's won the footer cup. Have to look after my digestion. for rain fell early in the morning. Bob. too. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. and after that the rout began. They had only been beaten once. for no apparent reason. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. they failed miserably." . made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. and I'm alone. The total was a hundred and seven. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. and the Incogniti. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. did anything to distinguish himself. bar the servants. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. His food ran out. All sorts of luxuries. made a dozen. batting first on the drying wicket. and ate that. for Neville-Smith.

so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this." "You were all right. of course. passed him the bread. yes." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "Bit better." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. being older."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. making desultory conversation the while. Mike. he would just do it. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. He's bound to get in next year. he poured Mike out a cup. "because it is. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. I don't know. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. When he had finished. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. though." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. Pity to spoil the record. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. "Not seen much of each other lately. We've all been at Wrykyn. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. one wants the best man." "Oh. He got tea ready. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. and sat down. Still. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. I can't say more than that. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. of course." continued Bob. Bob. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. Beastly awkward." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. was more at his ease." "You get on much better in the deep." Mike stared. Why? What about?" .

's like a sounding-board. And so home. Bob. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. I'll give you my opinion. Billy agreed with him. of course. They shook hands.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. sir. sir?' Spence said. Congratulate you. now. I was in the pav.' 'Yes.. and in a year or two. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. but. It had been his one ambition. Burgess.' said Spence. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. and tore across to Wain's. I couldn't help hearing what they said. don't let's go to the other extreme." said Mike. It's the fortune of war. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. He's a shade better than R. in the First room."Well. 'Decidedly M. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. and that's what he's there for. Billy said. 'That's just what I think. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act.'" "Oh. I'm simply saying what I think.' he said. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. when you congratulated a man on getting colours." muttered Mike. wiping the sweat off his forehead. just now." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. awfully. There was nothing much to _be_ said. I heard every word. I'm jolly glad it's you. He was sorry for Bob. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval.' said old Bill. I fancy you've won. and then sheered off myself. Well. They thought the place was empty. '_I_ think M. So Mike edged out of the room. 'I don't know what to do. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. . 'Well. "Thanks. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. and I picked it up and started reading it. The pav. rot. What do you think. of course. on the other hand. and said nothing." resumed Bob. and so on. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. and now he had achieved it. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. 'It's rough on Bob. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. to shake his hand. "Not at all. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. I waited a bit to give them a good start. but don't feel bound to act on it. he's cricket-master. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. After all. As it isn't me." Mike looked at the floor." It was the custom at Wrykyn. 'Well. there'll be no comparison. "Well. Spence said. what I wanted to see you about was this. sir.

He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. even on a summer morning. It wouldn't do. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board.-S." "Oh. Reaching out a hand for his watch. As he passed it. F. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. And Wyatt was at Bisley. It would have to be done. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. was not. he felt. orders were orders. therefore. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. . For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. and this silent alarm proved effective. dash it. as it always does. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house.--W. he found that it was five minutes past six." said Mike. This was to the good. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. and a little more. Mike could tell nobody. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. Until he returned. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. a prospect that appealed to him. He took his quarter of an hour. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets.30 to-morrow morning. Still. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it.

Didn't you see the notice?" . was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. looking at him. by the way. he felt. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. I want to know what it all means. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. would be bad enough. But logic is of no use. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. and jolly quick. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. One would have felt. he said to himself. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. dash it all. The painful interview took place after breakfast. And outside in the cricket-field. Was this right. Here was he." he said. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. Who _was_ he. that Mike. "Young Jackson. he asked himself. One simply lies there. inconvenienced--in short. Make the rest of the team fag about. Mike thought he would take another minute. being ordered about. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. and waited. Now he began to waver. It was time. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. and glared. One knows that delay means inconvenience. "look here. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. yes. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. Firby-Smith straightened his tie.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. But not a chap who. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. in coming to his den.

There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first." "I don't.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. I've had my eye on you for some time. "Then you frightful kid. this. He mentioned this. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. you went to sleep again. You think the place belongs to you. "Yes. See?" Mike said nothing. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. "Six!" "Five past. Awfully embarrassing. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. It was not according to his complicated. Frightful swelled head." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. and I'm captain of it. "Do--you--see. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. you do. young man." "Oh. as you please. you think you can do what you like." said Mike. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. just listen to me. did you? Well. turn up or not. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. but he rather fancied not. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. You've got swelled head." said Mike indignantly. Just because you've got your second. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. and I've seen it coming on. Happy thought: over-slept himself. That's what you've got. The point is that you're one of the house team. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing." said the Gazeka shrilly. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. That's got nothing to do with it. The rather large grain of truth in what .

"Do you see?" he asked again. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. A-ah!" He put down the glass." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two." . and surveyed Mike. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. Very heady. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. Wyatt came back. What one really wants here is a row of stars. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. He set his teeth. Well. for a beaker full of the warm south. Wyatt was worn out. I didn't hit the bull every time. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. "What's your trouble?" he asked. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. Failing that. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. "Oh. Mike's jaw set more tightly. and stared at a photograph on the wall. full of the true. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. If it's a broken heart. water will do. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. and his feelings were hurt." he said. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. but cheerful. as he had nearly done once before. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. Zam-buk's what you want." He left the dormitory. Always at it. and I suppose it always will be. "That's the cats. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. I'll go down and look.

I don't know. The speaker then paused. and. look here." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed." said Mike morosely. Otherwise. There are some things you simply can't do." "I like you jawing about discipline.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. He winked in a friendly way. "And why. "Nothing like this old '87 water. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. "Such body." "No. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. 'Talking of side. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong." he said. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. Cheers from the audience. drew a deep breath. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. "I say." "I mean. you've got to obey him. you stick it on. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep."He said I stuck on side. 'Jackson. That's discipline. I defy any one to. my gentle che-ild.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. did he buttonhole you on your way to school." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding." "In passing." "What! Why?" "Oh. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. that 'ere is. You stick on side. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. silent natures. blood as you are at cricket. putting down the jug. but. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it." "I didn't turn up. you'll have a rotten time here. It's too early in the morning. If he's captain. really. and say. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. and. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . while I get dropped on if I break out. a word in your ear. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it." "Why?" "I don't know. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture.

reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. "me. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. When you're a white-haired old man like me. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. Haileybury. the other you mustn't ever break. But this did not happen often. of which so much is talked and written." Mike made no reply. Tonbridge. Eton. or. His feelings were curiously mixed. Dulwich. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. young Jackson. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. Paul's are a third. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. He would have perished rather than admit it. before the Ripton match. or Wrykyn. would go down before Wilborough. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. and Wilborough formed a group. cheerful disregard of. That night. If Wyatt. There was no actual championship competition. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. but each played each. In this way. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. really meant. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. I don't know why. most forms of law and order. I thank you. Geddington. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. About my breaking out. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. but it generally did. That was the match with Ripton. rather. as far as games are concerned. Ripton. Until you learn that.saying--just so. and St. Wrykyn. . Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. for the first time in his life. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. Harrow. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like." he concluded modestly. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. having beaten Ripton. but it isn't done. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. if possible.

Neville-Smith was not a great bowler." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. He had fairly earned his place. Spence. If he could have pleased himself. but he was steady. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. Spence had voted for Mike. He could write it after tea. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. In case of accident. and he hated to have to do it. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. . accordingly. One gave him no trouble. From small causes great events do spring. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. "Pleasure is pleasure." "Banzai!" said Burgess. he would have kept Bob In. engrossed in his book. he postponed the thing. As it was. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. Finally he had consulted Mr. there was a week before the match. There were two vacancies. But. With him at short slip. And. and sprint. After all. feeling that life was good. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. "Well held. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. Bob got to it with one hand. It was a difficult catch. the sorrier he was for him. The more he thought of it. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. The report was more than favourable.Burgess. as the poet has it. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. and held it. and biz is biz. and he had done well in the earlier matches. * * * * * When school was over. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers." said Burgess. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. and Mr.

" "I've just been to the Infirmary. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence." he explained." "Oh. He'll be able to play on Saturday. That Burgess would feel." said the Gazeka. and became the cricket captain again. in fact. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. "Young Jackson. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. and all the time the team was filled up. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. and so he proceeded to tell ."Hullo." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement." There was. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. did not enter his mind." said Bob awkwardly. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. There are many kinds of walk. What hard luck it was! There was he. towards the end of the evening. nothing. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. He suppressed his personal feelings. "You're hot stuff in the deep. as who should say." said Bob." "Good. his mind full of Bob once more. It was decidedly a blow. on being told of Mike's slackness. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. it may be mentioned. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. of course. "This way for Iron Wills. do you mean? Oh." "Easy when you're only practising. but one has one's personal ambitions. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. "I couldn't get both hands to it. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. but it's all right. Burgess passed on. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. It was the cricket captain who. He was glad for the sake of the school. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. Firby-Smith. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist.

There was no possibility of mistake. * * * * * When. As he stared. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. met Bob coming in. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. going out. that looked less like an M. He looked at the paper. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. Bob stared after him." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess." he said. and passed on. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. there had never been an R. Bob had beaten him on the tape. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. "Congratulate you. Bob. "Hard luck!" said somebody. hurrying. Bob. therefore. than the one on that list. Mike scarcely heard him. as he was rather late. "Congratulate you. Since writing was invented. Trevor came out of the block. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. and to cut practice struck him as a in detail.

I'm not."Seen what?" "Why the list. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews." "No. Not much in it. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. I showed you the last one." The thing seemed incredible. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument." . They moved slowly through the cloisters." "Thanks. Go and look. This was no place for him. There was a short silence. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. as the post was late. "I believe there's a mistake. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. "Anyhow. next year seems a very. and Burgess agree with him." said Mike. "Congratulate you. very long way off. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." "Well. came down the steps. it's jolly rummy. Here it is. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. Trevor moved on. for next year." "My--what? you're rotting." said Mike. feeling very ill. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. It'll be something to do during Math. "Thanks awfully. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. When one has missed one's colours. Just then. Bob." he said awkwardly. you'll have three years in the first. delicately. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. with equal awkwardness." "Hope so. Mike. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. if you want to read it. "Jolly glad you've got it. "Got a letter from mother this morning. You've got your first. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. You're a cert. No reason why he shouldn't. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. neither speaking." said Bob.

Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands."Marjory wrote. for the first time in her life. there appeared on his face a worried. As they went out on the gravel. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. A brief spell of agony. and which in time disappears altogether. and Mike noticed. These things are like kicks on the shin. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. When they had left the crowd behind. somebody congratulated Bob again." Mike resented the tone. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. with some surprise. "Read that. that. "What's up?" asked Mike. seeing that the conversation was . * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate." "Why not here?" "Come on. He looked round." "No." he said. and. Mike was. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. "Hullo." and." said Mike amiably. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. I'll show it you outside. even an irritated look. "Got that letter?" "Yes. sitting up and taking nourishment. too. it's for me all right. He seemed to have something on his mind. Mike heard the words "English Essay. seeing Mike. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. Bob appeared curiously agitated." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation." "After you. Haven't had time to look at it yet. but it was lessened. I'll give it you in the interval. and went up to the headmaster. he stopped. but followed. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. as it were. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. The disappointment was still there.

She was a breezy correspondent. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown.S. I told her it served her right. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. "P. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. Well. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. Have you got your first? If you have. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). it . Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. He put the missive in his pocket. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. Phyllis has a cold. Bob had had cause to look worried. and it's _the_ match of the season. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. Reggie made a duck.-"I hope you are quite well.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. under the desk. He read it during school. Why don't you do that? "M. it will be all through Mike. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French.P." There followed a P. I am quite well. and ceased to wonder. with a style of her own. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. She was jolly sick about it.S. capped the headmaster and walked off. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. and display it to the best advantage. lead up to it.--This has been a frightful fag to write. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter.apparently going to be one of some length." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document.

and would insist on having a look at my arm. "I did." he broke off hotly. I don't know. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. it was beastly awkward.. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. but she had put her foot right in it. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. He came down when you were away at Geddington. I suppose I am." "I didn't think you'd ever know. "I know I ought to be grateful. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. You know." "Well. "Did you read it?" "Yes." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. So it came out. he might at least have whispered them. "Well?" said Bob. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. is it all rot. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow.. "I mean. Besides. They met at the nets. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. that's how it was." ." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. The team was filled up. Bob couldn't do much. "Of course. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. Marjory meant well. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything.. I couldn't choke him off. and all that. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. Still. "How do you mean?" said Mike." said Mike. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." he said at last. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. If he was going to let out things like that.

He thought he would go home. admitting himself beaten. he altered his plans. and happened to doze. and it grew so rapidly that. simply to think no more about them. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right."I don't remember. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home." he said. Or. who sat down on an acorn one day. "Besides. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play." Which he did." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair." He sidled off. and slides out of such situations." "Oh. sixty feet from the ground." Mike said." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. When affairs get into a real tangle. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. . This is Philosophy. well." said Bob to himself. "I shall get in next year all right. The sensible man realises this. Others try to grapple with them." "What about it?" "Well. finding this impossible. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. Half a second. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. and had a not unpleasant time." added Mike. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. anyhow. if one does not do that. "Well. He looked helplessly at Mike. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "Anyhow. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. when he awoke. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. "Well. it's all over now. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. I decide to remain here. but it never does any good. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race." "I'm hanged if it is. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. "I must see Burgess about it. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. but.

have to be carried through stealthily. You simply keep on saying you're all right. confessed to the same to solve the problem. I don't know if it's occurred to you. consulted on the point. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. Besides. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. what you say doesn't help us out much. At which period he remarked a rum business." said Bob. though. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. like the man in the oak-tree. "I suppose you can't very well." Bob agreed. "Still.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. Imitate this man. at the moment. and took the line of least resistance. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. now it's up. Tell you what. in council. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. Though. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. Bob should have done so. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. might find some way of making things right for everybody. And Burgess. seeing that the point is. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. and here you _are_." . It would not be in the picture. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. I could easily fake up some excuse." "I do. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. Very sporting of your brother and all that. in it. "But I must do something. It's not your fault. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. but why should you do anything? You're all right. after Mike's fashion." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. if they are to be done at school. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. It's me. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. if possible. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. These things. of course.

So long. expansive grin." "Smith oughtn't to have told you." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. if you don't look out. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board." "Mind the step." said Bob. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. he did tell me. At any rate. You sweated away. all right. that's why you've got your first instead of him. so out he went. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. He's a young slacker. whatever happens." "Anyhow. with a brilliant display of front teeth. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. if that's any good to you. A bad field's bad enough. and then the top of your head'll come off. thanks for reminding me. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. but supposing you had." said Neville-Smith. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. as the Greek exercise books say. As the distance between them lessened." "I don't care." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. I've got my first. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time. Wyatt."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. So you see how it is. Not that you did. I feel like--I don't know what.. If you really want to know. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say." said Burgess." "He isn't so keen." "Well. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant ." "Oh. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face." "I'll tell you what you look like. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. "Thanks. but a slack field wants skinning.

And Beverley. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. I needn't throw a brick. Make it a bit earlier." "Said it wasn't good enough." "No." "Yes." "Good man. a sudden compunction seized upon ." As Wyatt was turning away. Still. Clephane is. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. nor iron bars a cage. After all." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. All the servants'll have gone to bed. which I have--well. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. if you like. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school." "You _will_ turn up. and I'll come down." "So will the glass--with a run. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. anyhow it's to-night. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. You can roll up." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. They all funked it. if I did. for goodness sake. I'm going to get the things now. We shall have rather a rag. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. for one. eleven'll do me all right.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to have at home in honour of my getting my first. I get on very well. Heave a pebble at it. You'll see the window of my room. Still. It'll be the only one lighted up. can't you?" "Delighted." "The race is degenerating. I expect. It's just above the porch." "But one or two day-boys are coming. I shall manage it." "The school is going to the dogs. I'll try to do as little damage as possible.

"What's up?" he asked. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. and the wall by the . but he did not state his view of the case. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. If so. "Don't you worry about me. merriest day of all the glad New Year. I don't know if he keeps a dog. Ginger-beer will flow like water. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. do you? I mean. getting back. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place." "Oh. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. "but this is the maddest." said Wyatt." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. "I say. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. I've got to climb two garden walls. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. we must make the best of things. I should have gone out anyhow to-night." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. I've used all mine. Still. that's all right." "Don't go getting caught." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. No expense has been spared. He called him back. you always are breaking out at night. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. All you have to do is to open the window and step out.Neville-Smith. though." "I shall do my little best not to be. APPLEBY "You may not know it. you don't think it's too risky. Rather tricky work. They've no thought for people's convenience here. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society.

Appleby. true. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. There was a full moon. and was in the lane within a minute. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. Why not. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. The window of his study was open. sniffing as he walked. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. and let himself out of the back door. for instance. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. but the room had got hot and stuffy. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. and get a decent show for one's money in . From here he could see the long garden. he climbed another wall. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. the master who had the house next to Mr. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. They were all dark. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. dusted his trousers. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. He was fond of his garden. Crossing this. which had suffered on the two walls. Wain's. There he paused. "What a night!" he said to himself. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. Much better have flowers. whatever you did to it. At present there remained much to be done. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. He was in plenty of time. This was the route which he took to-night. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. It was a glorious July night. Then he decided on the latter. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. it is true. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. Appleby. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. ran lightly across it. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open.potting-shed was a feline club-house. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work.

it was not serious. to the parents. on hands and knees. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. He went his way openly. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. Appleby. It was not an easy question. . The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. he would have done so. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. through the headmaster. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. Sentiment. It was on another plane. Appleby had left his chair. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. He knew that there were times when a master might. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. liked and respected by boys and masters. close his eyes or look the other way. but he may use his discretion. With a sigh of relief Mr. and remember that he is in a position of trust. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. As he dropped into the lane. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. As far as he could see. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. however. The surprise. was a different thing altogether. He always played the game. and indirectly. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. Appleby. the extent of the damage done. of course. Appleby that first awoke to action. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. and. without blame. He receives a salary for doing this duty. treat it as if it had never happened. wondering how he should act. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. with the aid of the moonlight. Breaking out at night. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. He paused. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. examining. Mr. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. he had recognised him. bade him forget the episode. and rose to his feet.summer at any rate. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak.

Mr. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. . Mr. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. only it's something important." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard." "Sorry.This was the conclusion to which Mr. He could not let the matter rest where it was. like a sea-beast among rocks. if you don't mind. shall I? No need to unlock the door. "I'll smoke. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. and squeezed through into the room. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. in the middle of which stood Mr. Wain?" he said. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. He turned down his lamp. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. Wain. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. The blind shot up. He tapped on the window. Mr. "Can I have a word with you. I'm afraid. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. but they would have to wait. The thing still rankled." began Mr. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. Appleby." And. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. About Wyatt. Exceedingly so. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. Wain. Appleby. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. I'll climb in through here. and walked round to Wain's. greatly to Mr. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window." Mr. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval." said Mr.

" "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Appleby. He would have no choice. Dear me. a little nettled. then." "So was I. Why." "He's not there now. He was wondering what would happen." "Possibly. Yes." "There is certainly something in what you say. It isn't like an ordinary case. Sorry to have disturbed you. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. He had taken the only possible course. It's like daylight out of doors. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. If you come to think of it. "Let's leave it at that. and. That is certainly the course I should pursue. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Wain on reflection. and have it out with him. You are quite right. "What shall I do?" Mr. "A good deal." "I will. Appleby." Mr." "Good-night." "You astound me." "I don't see why. Got a pile of examination papers to look over." said Mr. I am astonished. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. Good-night."James! In your garden! Impossible. Appleby. You are not going?" "Must. Appleby offered no suggestion. You can deal with the thing directly. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled." "No. Tackle the boy when he comes in. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. this is most extraordinary. sit down. "I ought to report it to the headmaster." "You must have been mistaken. Appleby. That is a very good idea of yours." Mr. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. You're the parent." said Mr." "Bars can be removed. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Exceedingly so. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. He hoped . a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster.

. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. He liked Wyatt. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. thinking. if he were to be expelled. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. Mike was there. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. This breaking-out. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. He took a candle. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. If he had gone out. Mr. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. therefore. The light of the candle fell on both beds. Wyatt he had regarded. broken by various small encounters. least of all in those many years younger than himself. a sorrowful. he would hardly have returned yet. Mr. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. It would be a thousand pities. If further proof had been needed. He blew the candle out. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. he felt. Lately. and nothing else. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up.. it was true. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. the life of an assistant master at a public school. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son.they would not. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. Nor did he easily grow fond of others.. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. and the night was warm. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. was the last straw. Appleby had been right. It was not. But the other bed was empty. as a complete nuisance.. asleep. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. one of the bars was missing from the window. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. and then consider the episode closed.. He had been working hard. He grunted. The moon shone in through the empty space. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. Mr. It was not all roses. pondering over the news he had heard.. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. he reflected wrathfully. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. and walked quietly upstairs. by silent but mutual agreement. and waited there in the semi-darkness.. so much as an exasperated.

But he should leave. Wyatt dusted his knees. is that you. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. Mr. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. and the letter should go by the first post next day. At that moment Mr. . when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing." snapped the house-master. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. His voice sounded ominously hollow. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. There was literally no way out. "Hullo. and that immediately. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. and rubbed his hands together. Jackson. "Hullo!" said Mike. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. "Go to sleep. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. Wain. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. "James!" said Mr. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. father!" he said pleasantly. but could hear nothing. Mike saw him start. He lay down again without a word. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. The time had come to put an end to it. Wain relit his candle. as the house-master shifted his position. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. Wyatt should not be expelled. Then he seemed to recover himself. immediately. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Absolutely and entirely the game was up.

but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Follow me there." said Wyatt at last.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. my little Hyacinth. The swift and sudden boot. Suppose I'd better go down. I say." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. Wyatt!" said Mike.' We . "That reminds me. I suppose. sir. Me sweating to get in quietly. "But. what!" "But. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. "I say." said Wyatt. To Mike. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. do you think?" "Ah. really. it seemed a long silence. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. About an hour." "Yes. rolling with laughter." He left the room. it's awful. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. "It's all right. Speaking at a venture. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. now. I shall be sorry to part with you. Exceedingly astonished. Then Mr. speaking with difficulty. holding his breath." said Wyatt." "I got a bit of a start myself. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. Wain spoke. "I shall talk to you in my study. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. "I am astonished. He flung himself down on his bed. sir. I say. "Yes. lying in bed. Mike began to get alarmed. "You have been out." "What'll he do.

Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. and began to tap the table. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. then. I follow. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. 'tis well! Lead on." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a ." "Not likely. minions." explained Wyatt.shall meet at Philippi. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. James. Where are me slippers? Ha. "Exceedingly. sir." "What?" "Yes. I suppose I'd better go down." Mr. James?" Wyatt said nothing. Wain took up a pen. "Well?" "I haven't one. Mr. Well." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. may I inquire." he said. "Only my slipper. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter." "And." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. "Well." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. "It slipped." * * * * * In the study Mr. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Wain jumped nervously. That'll be me. sir. choking sob. Don't go to sleep. "Sit down. This is my Moscow. sir. sir. out of the house." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. Wyatt sat down.

" Mr. "I am sorry. Only it _was_ sending me off. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. Do you understand? That is all." "Of course. approvingly. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. "As you know. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. Wyatt. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. "I wish you wouldn't do that. Wain." said Wyatt laconically. Exceedingly so. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. to see this attitude in you. and resumed the thread of his discourse. sir. "It is expulsion. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. Wain suspended tapping operations." "You will leave directly I receive his letter." "I need hardly say." Wyatt nodded. but this is a far more serious matter. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. You will not go to school to-morrow. It is impossible for me to overlook it. . It is not fitting. even were I disposed to do so. In a minute or two he would be asleep. exceedingly. they only gain an extra fortnight of me." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. At once. ignoring the interruption. Tap like that. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy.motor-car. watching it. James." said Wyatt. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. father. It's sending me to sleep. I mean. James. You must leave the school." continued Mr.

he's got to leave." he said."No. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. father. was for his team. Wain were public property. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. "What happened?" "We chatted." Mike was miserably silent. . So why worry?" Mike was still silent. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. yes." "What? When?" "He's left already. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. as an actual spectator of the drama. "Anybody seen young--oh. or some rot. I shoot off almost immediately. all amongst the ink and ledgers. Burgess came up." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly." said Wyatt cheerfully. "Oh." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. "Buck up." Burgess's first thought. Mike. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. but it failed to comfort him. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. and began to undress. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. He isn't coming to school again. was in great request as an informant. here you are. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. as befitted a good cricket captain.

that's the part he bars most. anyway. and he's taken him away from the school. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. Not unless he comes to the dorm. young Jackson. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done." "He'll find it rather a change. "Hullo. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. Wyatt was his best friend. "I say. Mike!" said Bob. Look here. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. however. during the night." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. You'll play on Saturday. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. Hope he does. There was. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. As a matter of fact. his pal." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match." "I should like to say good-bye. last night after Neville-Smith's. though!" he added after a pause. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house." continued Burgess. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. I expect." agreed Mike. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. you see. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. without enthusiasm."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. Bob was the next to interview him. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. withdrawn." said Mike. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . one exception to the general rule. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. You know. They met in the cloisters. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. "All the same. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so." "All right.

I don't know. "It was all my fault. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it." "Oh. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. way. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. where Mike left him." "Neville-Smith! Why. "I say.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out." said Mike. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. Only our first. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon." . "What's up?" asked Bob. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. In extra on Saturday. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. "It was absolutely my fault. by the way. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. plunged in meditation. Jackson. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else." said Burgess.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. "Nothing much. as far as I can see. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. Well. They walked on without further Wain's gate. this wouldn't have happened. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. "If it hadn't been for me. "Only that. Bob. That's all. with a forced and grisly calm." he said at length.

I should think. I know. and once. did he?" Mike.C. to start with. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. He's a jolly good shot. the Argentine Republic. I may hold a catch for a change. or was being. It's about Wyatt." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank." "By Jove. Bob went on his way to the nets. that's to say. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. from all accounts. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. too. I'll write to father to-night.C." "By Jove. he'd jump at anything. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. As a matter of fact. he had a partner. "Very. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there." Burgess grunted. his father had gone over there for a visit. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. made. "I wanted to see you. They whacked the M. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed.C. glad to be there again. "I say. So Mr. three years ago. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. Mike. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Stronger than the one we drew with." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. who believed in taking no chances. He must be able to work it. presumably on business. All these things seemed to show that Mr. . Jolly hot team of M. Mike was just putting on his pads." "Oh. Spenlow. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. well.C. He never chucked the show altogether. Wain's dressing-room. for lack of anything better to say. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. as most other boys of his age would have been. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. And he can ride. I've thought of something. If it comes off. Like Mr." said Bob.

in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. but that. sir. sir. Racquets?" "Yes. In any case he would buy him a lunch. but to the point. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer.. you won't get any more of it now. which had run as follows: "Mr. sir. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank... Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. sir. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. and subsequently take in bundles to the . Wyatt?" "Yes." "Everything?" "Yes. Jackson's letter was short." "H'm . by a Beginner. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. Sportsman?" "Yes.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. Well. sir." After which a Mr.." "H'm .." "Cricketer?" "Yes. Wyatt's letter was longer. sir. Mr. These letters he would then stamp." "Play football?" "Yes. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. He said that he hoped something could be managed.." "H'm .

would be as useless as not playing at all. But it doesn't seem in my line. Burgess. "I should cook the accounts. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. Still. If he could only make a century! or even fifty.C. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. match. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. It would just suit him. as a member of the staff.' So long. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. if it got the school out of a tight place. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. Wyatt. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. Spence. Spence. to be among the ruck." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. I suppose. was not slow to recognise this fact." wrote Wyatt." said Burgess. Even twenty." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. "Who will go on first with you. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. Burgess. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. "I should win the toss to-day. if I were you. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. The Ripton match was a special event." said Mr. "Just what I was thinking. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. "Or even Wyatt. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. sir. Honours were heaped upon him. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. It was a day on which to win the toss. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. Mind you make a century. It had stopped late at night. this. when the match was timed to begin. 'Hints for Young Criminals. by J.' which is a sort of start. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. if the sun comes out. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. and go in first. To do only averagely well. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. Burgess?" . and entered it up under the heading ' office. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance." Mr. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. At eleven-thirty. There were twelve colours given three years ago. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day.C. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. inspecting the wicket with Mr. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds.

" said Maclaine. it might have been all right. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. This end. so I was bound to win to-day. well. I suppose?" "Yes--after us." "Oh. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. Looks as if it were going away. win the toss. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. On a dry. A boy called de Freece. "but I think we'll toss." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. He's a pretty useful chap all round." "Heads. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch." "I know the chap. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. I believe. And. Plays racquets for them too. You call. He was crocked when they came here."Who do you think." said Burgess." said Burgess ruefully. above all." "You'll put us in. that's a . we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock." "I should. of the Bosanquet type. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. Mac. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. and comes in instead. were old acquaintances." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. "One consolation is. "It's a nuisance too. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. I've lost the toss five times running. The other's yours. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. "We'll go in first. I don't know of him." "Tails it is. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. He wasn't in the team last year." "Well. Ellerby. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday." said Burgess. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow." "I must win the toss. It's a hobby of mine. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. about our batting. "Certainly. though. I think." "I don't think a lot of that. the Ripton captain. They had been at the same private school.

* * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. which was now shining brightly. The change worked. as he would want the field paved with it. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. but which did not always break. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. Burgess. gave place to Grant. They meant to force the game. Buck up and send some one in. The sun. Another hour of play remained before lunch. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. Then . The policy proved successful for a time. and was certain to get worse. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. Dashing tactics were laid aside. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. The pitch had begun to play tricks. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. but the score. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. So Ripton went in to hit. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. and let's get at you. and Bob." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. but it means that wickets will fall. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. as also happened now. held it. as it generally does. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Burgess began to look happier. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. The score mounted rapidly. Twenty came in ten minutes. At sixty Ellerby. run out. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. Maclaine. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. seventy-four for three wickets. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five.comfort. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. They plodded on. he was compelled to tread cautiously. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. as it did on this occasion.

who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. but he had also a very accurate eye. when a quarter to two arrived. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. for the last ten minutes. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. they resent it. the ten minutes before lunch. and it will be their turn to bat. a semicircular stroke. He had made twenty-eight. Every run was invaluable now. when Ellerby. as they walked . and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. And when he bowled a straight ball. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. when the wicket is bad. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. missed his second. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. The last man had just gone to the wickets. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. Just a ball or two to the last man.Ellerby. medium-paced yorker. His record score. it was not straight. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. So far it was anybody's game. the slow bowler. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. A four and a three to de Freece. That period which is always so dangerous. He bowled a straight. he explained to Mike. The other batsman played out the over. and with it the luncheon interval. and his one hit. did what Burgess had failed to do. and de Freece. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. swiping at it with a bright smile. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. who had gone on again instead of Grant. it was not a yorker. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. found his leg-stump knocked back. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. came off with distressing frequency.

" said Burgess helpfully. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. But Berridge survived the ordeal. Hullo. and make for the pavilion. when done. but it didn't." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. "That chap'll have Berry. Berridge. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. "L. A grim determination to do their best. It would have been a gentle canter for them. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six.-b. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand." "Hear that. On a bad the pavilion. "It's that googly man. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. He thought it was all right. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. He breaks like sin all over the shop.-w. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. Morris was the tenth case. Berry? He doesn't always break. The tragedy started with the very first ball. "Morris is out. if he doesn't look out. he said. and not your legs. First ball. . On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. hard condition. "Thought the thing was going to break. For goodness sake.-w. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. But ordinary standards would not apply here.-b. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. You must look out for that. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. Berry. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. for this or any ground. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. stick a bat in the way. would be anything record-breaking. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. rather than confidence that their best." he said." said Burgess blankly.

and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece." . Last man duck." Ellerby echoed the remark. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. The cloud began to settle again. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. broke it. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. With the score Freece. and scoring a couple of twos off it. Ellerby took off his pads. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. stumped. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions." said Ellerby. "One for two. The voice of the scorer. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. He was in after Bob. He got up. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. "You in next?" asked Ellerby.. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten.. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. if we can only stay in. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. Bob was the next man in. he was smartly at thirty.This brought Marsh to the batting end. but it was considerably better than one for two. "This is all right. He had then. and took off his blazer. Ten for two was not good. but this the next ball. No." he said. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. "It's getting trickier every minute. "The only thing is. The wicket'll get better. Bob's out!. By George. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. he isn't. we might have a chance. Mike nodded. Mike was silent and thoughtful. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. jumping out to drive. He sent them down medium-pace. He started to play forward. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. The last of the over had him in two minds. and the second tragedy occurred.

He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. the batsmen crossed. "Forty-one for four. "I'm going to shove you down one.." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. and had nearly met the same fate. however. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. 54.C. "Good man. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass.C. had fumbled the ball. you silly ass. The wicket-keeper. The melancholy youth put up the figures. He was cool. 5. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. I believe we might win yet. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. and try and knock that man de Freece off." said Ellerby. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell." said Ellerby. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. 12. on the board." he said. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. _fortissimo_. "That's the way I was had. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. If only somebody would knock him off his length. Every little helps. Jackson. when. more by accident than by accurate timing. He came to where Mike was sitting." said Ellerby." "All right. as if it were some one else's. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. . the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. as Ellerby had done." "Bob's broken his egg. There was no sense of individuality. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run... When he had gone out to bat against the M. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. Mike." said Mike. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved." said Mike. But now his feelings were different. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. which was repeated. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. Oh. Berridge was out by a yard. A howl of delight went up from the school.

is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. It pitched slightly to leg. The umpire shook his head. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover.-b. He felt that he knew where he was now. but this time off the off-stump. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. Mike had faced half-left. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. . He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling.-w. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. The ball hit his right pad. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. and hit it before it had time to break. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. and stepped back. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. Mike jumped out. and not short enough to take liberties with. finer players. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. in school matches. as he settled himself to face the bowler. to do with actual health. considering his pace. Indeed. The next ball was of the same length.Fitness. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. or very little. And Mike took after Joe. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. a comfortable three. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. and he had smothered them. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. It has nothing. Joe would be in his element. and whipped in quickly. They had been well pitched up. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. that he was at the top of his batting form. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. He knew what to do now. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. apparently. But something seemed to whisper to him. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. De Freece said nothing.

with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. for neither Ashe. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive." "You ass. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. the score mounted to eighty. It was a long-hop on the off. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. however. . but he was uncertain. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. to a hundred. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. but he was full of that conviction. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. (Two years later. At a hundred and four.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. mainly by singles. he made a lot of runs. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. a half-volley to leg. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. Mike could see him licking his lips. But Mike did not get out. He might possibly get out off his next ball. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. that this was his day. or he's certain to get out. and the wicket was getting easier. He had an excellent style. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. He had made twenty-six.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. in the pavilion. Practically they had only one. thence to ninety." said Berridge. was a promising rather than an effective bat. Henfrey. "Sixty up. "Don't say that. For himself he had no fear now. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. he lifted over the other boundary. nor Grant." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. To-day he never looked like settling down. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. and made twenty-one. In the present case." said Ellerby. There was nervousness written all over him. and so. Apparently. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. He survived an over from de Freece. The last ball of the over. and de Freece's pet googly. the next man in. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. His departure upset the scheme of things. And. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. when he captained the Wrykyn teams.

As it was. and a school prefect to boot. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. but even so. it all but got through Mike's defence. but this happened now. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. and it was possible to take liberties. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at.. announced that he had reached his fifty. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. . The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. But each time luck was with him. Could he go up to him and explain that he. Forty to win! A large order. and set his teeth. he stopped it. A distant clapping from the pavilion. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. The wicket was almost true again now." he whispered. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. I shall get outed first ball. The fast bowler. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves.. taken up a moment later all round the ground. or we're done." "All right. "collar the bowling all you know. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. "Come on. It rolled in the direction of third man. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. But he did not score.He was not kept long in suspense." said Mike. and he would have been run out. But it was going to be done. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. Jackson. The next over was doubly sensational. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. Another fraction of a second. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. The last ball of the over he mishit. was well-meaning but erratic." shouted Grant. But the sixth was of a different kind.. "Over. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end." said the umpire. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. "For goodness sake. Mike took them.

but determined." "The funny part of it is. and rolled back down the pitch. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. It was young Jackson. * * * * * "Good game. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over." said Maclaine." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. Grant looked embarrassed. Mike had got the bowling. A great stillness was over all the ground. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck." said Maclaine. He bowled rippingly. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. by the way?" "Eighty-three. I say. Brother of the other one. rough luck on de Freece. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. A bail fell silently to the ground. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . The school broke into one great howl of joy. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two." continued he. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. and the bowling was not de Freece's. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. There were still seven runs between them and victory. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. The next moment the crisis was past. Mike's knees trembled. The fifth curled round his bat. and touched the off-stump. For four balls he baffled the attack. It was an awe-inspiring moment. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. Point and the slips crowded round." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny.

bush-ray. referred to in a previous chapter. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. The rest." explained Gladys Maud." said Ella. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. "There's a letter from Wyatt. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. bush-ray. who had duly secured the stakes. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. Jackson was reading letters. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. Mike's place was still empty." added Phyllis. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. "Bush-ray. The Jacksons were breakfasting. but was headed off. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. Jackson) had resulted." began Gladys Maud." "With a bushranger." said Marjory. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres." . in a victory for Marjory. Mike read on." "I wish Mike would come and open it." she shouted. He's been wounded in a duel." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. had settled down to serious work.It was a morning in the middle of September." said Mr. "Is there?" said Mike. "Bush-ray. Mike. through the bread-and-milk. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. Jackson. "Sorry I'm late. but expects to be fit again shortly. conversationally." He opened the letter and began to read. Mrs. Mr. interested. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman." said Phyllis. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "Buck up. "Bushrangers. "He gives no details. including Gladys Maud. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. The hour being nine-fifteen. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee.

. and it was any money on the Gaucho. So this rotter. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. and that's when the trouble began. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. and tooled after him." said Phyllis. I got going then. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. I thought he was killed at first. and missed him clean every time. Missed the first shot. He fired as we came up. That's the painful story. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. I picked it up. Only potted him in the leg. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. "No. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. so he came to us and told us what had happened. and so it was. Well. A chap called Chester... The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here.. which has crocked me for the time being. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. but it turned out it was only his leg. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. a good chap who can't help being ugly. which had fallen just by where I came down. it was practically a bushranger. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. pulled out our revolvers. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. After a bit we overtook him. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver." said Marjory. Here you are. summing up. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. so excuse bad writing. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. and his day's work was done. "I told you it was a duel. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. It happened like this. and go through that way. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. This is what he says. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. Jackson. I say. and coming back.. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. an Old Wykehamist.. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. "Anyhow. instead of shifting off. Jackson. and loosed off. he wanted to ride through our place. and dropped poor old Chester. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. Chester was unconscious." said Mike. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. proceeded to cut the fence. Hurt like sin afterwards. We nipped on to a couple of horses. and I were dipping sheep close by. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. so I shall have to stop. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards.

It's the first I've had from Appleby. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. Mr. "I'm a bit late. though for the others. Mike. She had adopted him at an early age. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." Marjory was bustling about. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. When he came down on this particular morning. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam." "He didn't mean it really. looked on in a detached sort of way. as Mr." "No. jumping up as he entered. Mrs. taking his correspondence with him." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. But he was late. she would do it only as a favour. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. while Marjory. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. "Hullo." "Have you? Thanks awfully. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." she said. but Mike was her favourite." said Marjory." said Mike philosophically. as usual." she said. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. He looked up interested. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. Jackson had disappeared. and did the thing thoroughly." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table." Mike seemed concerned. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock." . that's a comfort. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. as she always did. Father didn't say anything. "Your report came this morning. even for Joe. the meal was nearly over. "I say. Blake used to write when you were in his form. fetching and carrying for Mike. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. Mike. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. She was fond of her other brothers. Jackson had gone into the kitchen.

while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. however. was not returning next term. Why. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the ." Mike's jaw fell slightly. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. on the arrival of Mr. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now.C." "Where?" "He's in the study. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. it's a beastly responsibility. He liked the prospect. and Mike was to reign in his stead. He had filled out in three years. From time to time." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. He had always had the style. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. but already he was beginning to find his form. "Oh. "in a beastly wax. "You _are_." he said. indeed. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out." "I wish I wasn't. Everybody says you are."What ho!" interpolated Mike." "What for?" "I don't know. appalled by the fear of losing his form." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. I've been hunting for you. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser." Henfrey. Saunders. He seems--" added Phyllis. who treated his sons as companions. "you'll make a century every match next term. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. Mr. It was early in the Easter holidays. Let's go and see. father wants you. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. and now he had the strength as well. At night sometimes he would lie awake. minor match type. She was kept busy.C. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. As he was walking towards the house. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Mike. By the way." was his muttered exclamation. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. Phyllis met him. was delighted. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. Master Mike. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket.

" replied Mr. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. but on several occasions. Jackson." said his father. with a sort of sickly interest. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "your report.'" "We were doing Thucydides.previous term. and Mr. It was on this occasion that Mr. Greek.'" "It wasn't anything really." Mike. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. Jackson. skilled in omens. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. There followed an awkward silence. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor." said Mr. Jackson in measured tones. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. father?" said Mike. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings." "Here are Mr. "I want to speak to you.'" quoted Mr. "'His conduct.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. what is more. he paused. . I say!" groaned the record-breaker. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. scented a row in the offing. therefore. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. Mike.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. "'French bad. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. Jackson was a man of his word." "Oh. Book Two. "Come in. that Jackson entered the study. not once. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. It was with a certain amount of apprehension." "Oh. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. "I want you to listen to this report. "It is. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. kicking the waste-paper basket. Inattentive and idle." "'Latin poor. very poor. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. both in and out of school." "'Mathematics bad. is that my report. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so.

"I shall abide by what I said." Mike's heart thumped. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. The tragedy had happened. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. Jackson. He understood him.' There is more to the same effect. perhaps. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. Jackson was sorry for Mike. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. and there was an end of it. Mr. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. Mike?" said Mr. Mike said nothing. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike." he said. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy." was his next remark. pure and simple. birds were twittering. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. "It is not a large school. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. a silent." he said blankly." Mr. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. He did not approve of it. spectacled youth who did not enter . He understood cricket. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. but it has one merit--boys work there. and Mr. Mike's point of view was plain to him. but still blithely). Mr. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. and for that reason he said very little now." Barlitt was the vicar's son. when he made up his mind. He knew it would be useless. his father. or their Eight to Bisley. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket.

seeing the name of the station. "So you're back from Moscow. bustling up. And. "For the school. sir. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. thanks." said Mike. but not much conversation had ensued. sir. his appearance. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van." said Mike frigidly. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's." said the porter. so far from attempting to make the best of things. pulled up again. and Mike. Hi. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. opened the door." "Here you are. He walked off up the road. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. sir. He hated the station. "Young gents at the school. "It's a goodish step. You can't miss it. for instance. He thought. and the man who took his ticket. It's straight on up this road to the school. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. Also the boots he wore. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour." "Right. sir. "Mr. Jackson. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. He disliked his voice." added Mr. Mike nodded. Mike said nothing." "Worse luck. George!" "I'll walk." "Thank you. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. and said. sir.very largely into Mike's world. It was such . Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. sorrier for himself than ever. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. got up. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. and the colour of his hair. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. sir. Barlitt's mind was massive. Then he got out himself and looked about him. The future seemed wholly gloomy. sir. It's waiting here. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus.

Outwood. but almost as good. And as captain of cricket. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. if he survived a few overs. About now. and the house-master appeared. now that he was no longer there. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Strachan was a good. He inquired for Mr. And now. would be weak this year. and was shown into a room lined with books. Outwood's was the middle one of these. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. This must be Sedleigh. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. and knocked. on top of all this. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. Once he crossed a river. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. Mike went to the front door. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. from the top of a hill. Which was the bitter part of it. But it was not the same thing. sir. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. too. Outwood. might make a century in an hour. who would be captain in his place. but he was not to be depended upon. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn." . going in first. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. at that. Outwood's. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. There were three houses in a row. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. Presently the door opened. Now it might never be used." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. He had never been in command. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. and. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. Burgess. free bat on his day. Wrykyn. "Yes. the return by over sixty points. Enderby. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays.absolutely rotten luck. The football fifteen had been hopeless. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. and had lost both the Ripton matches. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. "Jackson?" he said mildly. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school.

Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. He strayed about. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual." he said. then. that's to say. What's yours?" . Ambrose."I am very glad to see you. very glad indeed. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. You come from Crofton. My name. "Hullo. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. It will well repay a visit." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. Quite so. A very long. standing quite free from the apse wall. "is Smith. A Nursery Garden in the Home. where they probably played hopscotch. good-bye. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. in Shropshire. "Take a seat. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. I think you might like a cup of tea. As Mike entered. Bishop Geoffrey. Jackson. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. Jackson. was leaning against the mantelpiece. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. he spoke. Good-bye for the present." said the immaculate one. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. yes. sir?" "What? Yes. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. his gloom visibly deepened. with chamfered plinth." he added pensively. Jackson. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. and fixed it in his right eye. That sort of idea. Oh. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. It was a little hard. He spoke in a tired voice. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. All alone in a strange school. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. finding his bearings. Quite so." said Mike. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. I understand. Personally. said he had not. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. In many respects it is unique. But this room was occupied. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. "Hullo. thin youth. You will find the matron in her room. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England.

It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. then?" "Yes! Why. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. so I don't know. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. See? There are too many Smiths. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. before I start." said Psmith solemnly. for choice." "For Eton. and I don't care for Smythe. and got it. "but I've only just arrived. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. Sedleigh gains. I was superannuated last term. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. Cp." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. and see that I did not raise Cain. See?" Mike said he saw. Sit down on yonder settee. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. . I shall found a new dynasty. everybody predicting a bright career for me. At an early age. too. "No. "Let us start at the beginning.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. or simply Smith." said Mike. If you ever have occasion to write to me." said Mike. the Pride of the School. the P not being sounded. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me." "Bad luck." "No?" said Mike. But what Eton loses. By the way. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. "My infancy. yes. "Are you the Bully." he resumed. When I was but a babe. But. the name Zbysco. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). I was sent to Eton. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. there's just one thing." "But why Sedleigh. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. "it was not to be. We now pass to my boyhood.

" "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. There's a libel action in every sentence. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday." said Psmith. but a bit too thick for me." "Wrykyn. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. To get off cricket. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. Cheer a little. we fall. And. Sheep that have gone astray. Now tell me yours." "I am with you. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. dusting his right trouser-leg. prowling about. Bit off his nut. and so on. His dislike for his new school was not diminished." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. It's a great scheme. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. Divided."That was the man. together we may worry through. You ought to be one. We are companions in misfortune. Lost lambs. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. He could almost have embraced Psmith." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. We are practically long-lost brothers. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it." said Psmith. mark you. who told our curate. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. who told my father. A noble game. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. You work for the equal distribution of property. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. who told our vicar. will you? I've just become a Socialist. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith." . "hangs a tale. Outwood. The son of the vicar. The vicar told the curate. run by him. laddie. Comrade Jackson. We must stick together. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. "You have heard my painful story. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. Jawed about apses and things. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. It goes out on half-holidays." "And thereby.

This is practical Socialism." They went upstairs. I suppose they have studies here. called Wyatt. hand in hand. We must stake out our claims. two empty bookcases. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. Psmith approved the resolve. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there." said Mike. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. "'Tis well. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown." said Mike. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. "We will. We will snare the elusive fossil together. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. was one way of treating the situation. and do a bit on our own account. "is the exact programme. we will go out of bounds." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. and a looking-glass. hung on a nail. Psmith opened the first of these. and have a jolly good time as well. You and I. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. "Stout fellow. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. and one not without its meed of comfort. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. Above all. looking out over the school grounds." he said. and get our names shoved down for the Society. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview." "It would take a lot to make me do that. Let's go and look. It was a biggish room. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." said Psmith. We shall thus improve our minds. and straightening his tie. "This'll do us well. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp." said Psmith approvingly. at any rate." . "Might have been made for us." "Good idea." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. There were a couple of deal tables. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native." "Not now. as it were. A chap at Wrykyn." he said. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme." "Then let's beat up a study."I'm not going to play here." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other.

and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience." A heavy body had plunged against the door. There are moments when one wants to be alone. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. if you want to be really useful. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study." "These school reports. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable." said Psmith. He was full of ideas." said Psmith."His misfortune. and begins to talk about himself." said Mike. "You couldn't make a long arm. though the idea was Psmith's. and a voice outside said. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. A rattling at the handle followed. What's this. "The weed. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. That putrid calendar must come down. We make progress. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. was rather a critic than an executant. It's got an Etna and various things in it. And now. could you. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity." . not ours. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. Hullo. "are the very dickens. "Privacy. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. I had several bright things to say on the subject. We make progress. sits down. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. I wonder. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. the first thing you know is. though." said Psmith sympathetically. Do you think you could make a long arm. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. as he watched Mike light the Etna. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. Similarly. somebody comes right in. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs.

But no. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. and this is my study. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. put up his eyeglass." said Psmith. A stout fellow. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. we must be prepared for every emergency. and screamed.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. Come in and join us. We keep open house. I am Psmith." said Psmith. "In this life. "you stayed on till the later train. "Well." "My name's Spiller. It is unusual for people to go about the place ." said Psmith. that's what I call it. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. Spiller evaded the question. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. Psmith rose courteously from his chair." inquired the newcomer. Homely in appearance. "What the dickens." said Psmith." "But we do. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). Framed in the entrance was a smallish." he repeated. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece." said he. practical order. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. you find strange faces in the familiar room. "It's beastly cheek. it's beastly cheek. but one of us. "It's beastly cheek.Mike unlocked the door. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. 'Edwin. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. 'Edwin. "to restore our tissues after our journey. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. Comrade Spiller. He went straight to the root of the matter. and said. all might have been well. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. Your father held your hand and said huskily. deeply affected by his recital." Psmith went to the table. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. perhaps. a people that know not Spiller. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. "You can't go about the place bagging studies." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. 'Don't go. and flung it open. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. and. freckled boy. Edwin!' And so. on arrival. we Psmiths.

The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. He hummed lightly as he walked. "All I know is. "are you going to take? Spiller. Psmith particularly debonair. and we stopped dead. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. and skidded into a ditch. It was Simpson's last term. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside.bagging studies. Mr." "Not an unsound scheme. But what of Spiller." "Look here. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. He cannot cope with the situation. the man of Logic.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike." The trio made their way to the Presence. 'I couldn't. Error! Ah.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. 'Now we'll let her rip. let this be a lesson to you. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. Spiller. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. and I'm next on the house list." said Psmith. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible.' Take the present case. sir. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. you are unprepared. . and Simpson's left. it's my study." "Spiller's. so.' he said. Mike sullen. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. One's the foot-brake. we know. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. of course." he said. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. Spiller. The thing comes on you as a surprise." said Psmith.' So he stamped on the accelerator. 'I wouldn't. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. and the other's the accelerator. Spiller." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. As it is. I'm going to have it. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. and Jackson. By no means a scaly project. We may as well all go together. "Ah." Mr. Spiller pink and determined. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said." "But what steps. "And Smith. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in.

sir. sir. "One moment. "Yes. he is one of our oldest members. "that accounts for it. very pleased indeed. "I am delighted. Archaeology fascinates me. His colleague. sir--" said Spiller. "Yes. sir. quite so. never had any difficulty in finding support." "Jackson. Mr." said Psmith." "Not at all. Smith." "Oh." "Please. I am very pleased. sir--" said Spiller. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. Smith. Spiller. Downing. Is there anything----" "Please. sir. if you were not too busy. games that left him cold. This enthusiasm is most capital. Smith. Cricket and football. tolerantly. "His heart is the heart of a little child. sir--" began Spiller. Boys came readily at his call. sir. We have a small Archaeological Society." he said at last. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. sir. two miles from the school. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez." "And Jackson's. Smith?" "Intensely. Smith." "Ah." "Please. Most delighted." said Psmith sadly."Er--quite so. I will put down your name at once." said Psmith." Mr. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join." pursued Psmith earnestly. "One moment." "There is no vice in Spiller. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. I--er--in a measure look after it. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. while his own band." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. Outwood beamed." "Undoubtedly. sir. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. "I have been unable to induce to join. Spiller. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. though small. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." . "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. "I understand. too!" Mr. were in the main earnest. Mr. Do you want to join. This is capital. who presided over the School Fire Brigade." he said. not at all. A grand pursuit." "Spiller.

" "Capital!" "Please." shouted Spiller." "Yes. You should have spoken before. very trying for a man of culture. Smith. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house." said Psmith. "There is just one other matter. Edwin."We shall be there." "Certainly. Spiller." "Quite so. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list." "But. "One moment. Quite so. "This tendency to delay. "Please. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. sir. sir. A very good idea." He turned to Mr. sir. Spiller." "Thank you very much." "Thank you very much. An excellent arrangement." said Psmith. Fight against it. sir. I come next after Simpson. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons." "Quite so. Correct it. "is very." said Mike." "All this sort of thing. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. sir. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. sir. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. Outwood. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. "is your besetting fault. sir." he said. "We should. if you could spare the time. Smith. of course. sir. We will move our things in. as they closed the door. sir--" said Spiller. Spiller." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Smith. Spiller. sir. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings.

but we can't stay all night. Here we are in a stronghold. . But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories."There are few pleasures. "We ought to have known each other before. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. as you rightly remark. he would not have appreciated it properly. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night." As they got up. they can only get at us through the door. "We will now." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness." "And jam a chair against it. "about when we leave this room. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. with your permission. "The difficulty is. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. I say. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis." Psmith eyed Mike with approval." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. We are as sons to him. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. but we must rout him out once more. I don't like rows. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. we're all right while we stick here. and this time there followed a knocking. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. Smith." he said. I mean. jam a chair against it. though." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. face the future for awhile. there is nothing he can deny us." "The loss was mine." he said with approval. the door handle rattled again. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this." "_And_. and we can lock that." Mike was finishing his tea. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once." said Psmith courteously." said Psmith. Comrade Jackson. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study.

" "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. "If you move a little to the left." said Mike." said Psmith." giggled Jellicoe. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike." said Psmith." "Old Spiller. for instance." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out." "Sturdy common sense. not more. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." "How many _will_ there be. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. only it belongs to three . about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." "As I suspected. "He might get about half a dozen." said Psmith. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better." said Psmith approvingly. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. in his practical way. then?" asked Mike." sighed Psmith. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. with." said Psmith. say. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. "I just came up to have a look at you." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. "Let us parley with the man. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." Mike unlocked the door. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." he explained.

A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. crowding ." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. Things. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. as they returned to the study. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. it will save trouble. sir. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. Comrade Spiller. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. "are beginning to move. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. as the messenger departed." he said. and some other chaps. Smith." "You make friends easily.chaps." Mr. Better leave the door open." "We were wondering. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. I think. come in. the others waited outside." he said. if you would have any objection to Jackson. "That door." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. I like to see it--I like to see it." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. Smith?" he said." This time it was a small boy. sir----" "Not at all. The handle began to revolve again." "And now. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down." said Psmith. Ah." said Psmith. Jellicoe and myself." "And we can have the room. but shall be delighted to see him up here. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. Smith. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. "Yes. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. "has sprung up between Jackson. "We must apologise for disturbing you.

we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. always. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe." "You'll get it hot. if you don't. Mike. I say." "We'll risk it." said Spiller. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. For a moment the doorway was blocked. swung open. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. . stepping into the room again. "Look here." said Jellicoe. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. but it was needless. instead of resisting. Comrade Spiller. and then to stand by for the next attack. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside." A heavy body crashed against the door. "They'll have it down. "We must act. the captive was already on the window-sill. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful the doorway. was just in time to see Psmith. but Mike had been watching. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg." said Psmith approvingly. As Mike arrived. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. The dogs of war are now loose. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. the enemy gave back. however. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. the door. His was a simple and appreciative mind. was it? Well. turning after re-locking the door. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. "A neat piece of work. and Mike. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. "Who was our guest?" he asked. you chaps. "Robinson. This time. the first shot has been fired. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. and the handle." said Mike. slammed the door and locked it. Jellicoe giggled in the background. "Come on." cried Spiller suddenly. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. Mike jumped to help.

. "You'd better come out. but it can't go on. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time." "They won't do anything till after tea. Jellicoe knocked at the door. When they had been in the study a few moments. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash." The passage was empty when they opened the door. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. "is exciting. and see what happens. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. they were first out of the room." said Psmith. leaning against the mantelpiece. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. we will play the fixture on our own ground. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. It read: "Directly this is over. "Tea." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. "No." Mike followed the advice. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. you know. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. "we shall have to go now. I shouldn't think." A bell rang in the distance. Well. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. but Psmith was in his element. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. nip upstairs as quickly as you can." said Mike. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term." said Mike. "There's no harm in going out. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. we would be alone." said Jellicoe." "Leave us. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once." "This. and have it out?" said Mike. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation." he said. Spiller. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. Spiller's face was crimson.Somebody hammered on the door. of course. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes.

retiring at ten. "the matter of noise. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle." said Psmith. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. ." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether." said Psmith placidly. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. "And touching. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. As to the time when an attack might be expected. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. _ne pas_. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. closing the door." said Jellicoe. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. Mr. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. We shall be glad of his moral support." said Psmith. And now. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner." This appears to be a thoroughly nice." "Then I think. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. that human encyclopaedia. and disappeared again. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. well-conducted establishment. It was probable. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. deposed that Spiller. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. as predicted by Jellicoe. but otherwise."Quite right. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. they rag him. where Robinson also had a bed. "only he won't. he'll simply sit tight. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. Shall we be moving?" Mr. He never hears anything. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. therefore. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful." said Mike.

Comrade Jellicoe. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. silence is essential. I always ask myself on these occasions. "Dashed neat!" he said. I have evolved the following plan of action." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. waiting for him. There was a creaking sound. Mike was tired after his journey. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. they may wait at the top of the steps. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. too. showed that Jellicoe. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. . Napoleon would have done that. especially if. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. Subject to your approval. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. Comrade Jackson. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. "These humane preparations being concluded. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. and a slight giggle. had heard the noise. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. as on this occasion. "we will retire to our posts and wait. He would then----" "I tell you what. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. listening. but far otherwise. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. which is close to the door." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. There were three steps leading down to it. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr."How about that door?" said Mike. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step." said Psmith. directly he heard the door-handle turned. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. If they have no candle. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes." said Mike. If they have. too.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

"I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. probably smoking and going into low public-houses." "A very wild lot." "On archaeology. the better." Adair turned. sir. The more new blood we have. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. Archaeology is a passion with us." said Psmith. loafing habits." "I never loaf. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. too. sir." "We are. Outwood last night. I was referring to the principle of the thing. sir." He stumped off. It gets him into idle. the Archaeological Society here. But in my opinion it is foolery. looking after him. with fervour. a keen school. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. we went singing about the house. Downing vehemently." Mr. Comrade Outwood loves us. "Now _he's_ cross. When we heard that there was a society here. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. "I was not alluding to you in particular. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys." said Psmith. I suppose I can't hinder you. I fear." sighed Psmith." said Psmith. nothing else. Let's go on and see what sort . We want keenness here. I like every new boy to begin at once. sir. I tell you I don't like it. and walked on. "Excellent. to an excitable bullfinch. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. eh?" It was a master. A short. We are." said Mr." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys." "Good job. above all.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. "I don't like it. "If you choose to waste your time. not wandering at large about the country. Scarcely had he gone. both in manner and appearance. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. shaking his head. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. I suppose you will both play. I want every boy to be keen. "I saw Adair speaking to you. sir." "At any rate.

Numbers do not make good cricket. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. Adair. was a very good bowler indeed. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. He did not repeat the experiment." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. but there were some quite capable men. Barnes. "I _will_ be good. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. mostly in Downing's house. It couldn't be done. and Milton. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. when the sun shone. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. and Stone was a good slow bowler. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. and Wyatt. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. by the law of averages. to begin with. that swash-buckling pair. He was not a Burgess. after . Any sort of a game." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. The batting was not so good. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. There were other exponents of the game. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. in his three years' experience of the school. And now he positively ached for a game. Lead me to the nearest net. the head of Outwood's. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. There were times. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. Stone and Robinson themselves. Altogether. It was on a Thursday afternoon. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. was a mild. were both fair batsmen. after watching behind the nets once or twice. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. What made it worse was that he saw. Mike would have placed above him.

It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. Roman camps. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. He patronised fossils. He was embarrassed and nervous. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze." said Adair coldly. for Mr. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. he would have patronised that. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. This is the real cricket scent. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. "This is the first eleven net. and brood apart for awhile. He went up to Adair. was the first eleven net. He looked up. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. The day was warm. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. and kept them by his aide. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. "This net. Mr. More abruptly this time. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. as he sat there watching. to be absolutely accurate. Psmith approached Mike. Mike walked away without a word. Psmith. Mike repeated his request. and was trying not to show it. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. "What?" he said. but patronising. give me the pip." it may be "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. Let us find some shady nook where a . "Go in after Lodge over there. Mike." "Over there" was the end net. He was amiable. from increased embarrassment." he said. could stand it no longer. and he patronised ruins. seemed to enjoy them hugely. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. "by the docility of our demeanour. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. "Having inspired confidence. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. let us slip away.

" Mike. Looking back. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at may lie on his back for a bit. Call me in about an hour." "The dickens you--Why. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. At the further end there was a brook." said Psmith. broad young man with a fair moustache. Mine are like some furrowed field. Comrade Jackson. above all. he got up. this looks a likely spot. and began to explore the wood on the other side. "I was just having a look round. I can tell you." And Psmith. Mike would have carried on. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. and they strolled away down the hill." said Psmith. and then. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. He came back to where the man was standing. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. and began to bark vigorously at him. In fact. In passing." he said. "Thus far. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. Mike liked dogs. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. but he could not place him. I rather think I'll go to sleep. He was too late. and sitting down. "I played against you. We will rest here awhile. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. and listen to the music of the brook." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. dancing in among my . He was a short. for the Free Foresters last summer. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. "A fatiguing pursuit. Ah. finding this a little dull. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. In the same situation a few years before. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. unless you have anything important to say. on acquaintance. hitching up the knees of his trousers. and trusted to speed to save him. "And. Mike sat on for a few minutes. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. "and no farther. and. offered no opposition. and closed his eyes. jumped the brook. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. they always liked him. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. lay down. Their departure had passed unnoticed. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere.

nesting pheasants. You made fifty-eight not out. We all start out together. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. By Jove. you see." "I'll give you all you want." "That's all right. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. if you want me to. I say. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. * * * * * . What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. "Any Wednesday or Saturday." "I'll play on a rockery." And he told how matters stood with him. I'll tell you how it is. It's just off the London road. "So. By the way. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front." said Mike. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason." "I'll lend you everything." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies. you know. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. He began to talk about himself. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. "I hang out down here. I'm simply dying for a game." he concluded. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. You're Prendergast. Very keen. There's a sign-post where you turn off." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." "You ought to have had me second ball. but no great shakes. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. Look here." "I'm frightfully sorry. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn." "Thanks. turning to the subject next his heart. only cover dropped it. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. "Only village. but I could nip back.

I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. pompous. but it was a very decent substitute. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there." One of the most acute of these crises. As time went on. M. punctuated at intervals by crises. and the most important. indeed. Downing. for a village near here. will you? I don't want it to get about. and Mr. It was not Wrykyn. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Downing. I think I'll come and watch you. Downing. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. life can never be entirely grey. and it grew with further acquaintance. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. Downing's special care. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. sleepily. Jackson. employed doing "over-time. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. If you like the game. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. Mr. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. Mr. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. "I'm going to play cricket. I say. To Mike. to enjoy himself. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. don't tell a soul. never an easy form-master to get on with. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade." "My lips are sealed. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. To Mr. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. on being awakened and told the news. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports." * * * * * That Saturday. fussy. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. though he would not have admitted it. It was. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. Cricket I dislike. Mike began.

sir. Stone. a sort of high priest. Downing had closed the minute-book. "One moment. held up his hand. As soon as Mr. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. and was apparently made of india-rubber. "Well. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. The proceedings always began in the same way. much in request during French lessons. and under the captain a vice-captain. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. short for Sampson. who. Sammy. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. Wilson. Sammy was the other. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr." . and a particular friend of Mike's. At its head was Mr. The rest were entirely frivolous. or Downing. who looked on the Brigade in the right. "Shall I put it to the vote. sir. Under them were the rank and file. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. Downing's form-room. sir?" asked Stone. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. He was a large. Downing pondered "Red. was the Sedleigh colour. To show a keenness for cricket was good. These two officials were those sportive allies. light-hearted dog with a white coat. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. of Outwood's house. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. with green stripes. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. To-day they were in very fair form. Sammy was a great favourite in the school.esteem of Mr. the tongue of an ant-eater. spirit. an engaging expression. a tenor voice." Red. He had long legs. with a thin green stripe. In passing. Stone and Robinson. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. Downing. under him was a captain. Wilson?" "Please. Downing. of the School House. We will now proceed to the painful details. Outwood. Downing. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. had joined young and worked their way up. about thirty in all. The Brigade was carefully organised.

" "Oo-oo-oo-oo."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sir. and the meeting had divided." "Please. sir. of course." A scuffling of feet." ." "Please. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. "I don't think my people would be pleased. those against it to the right. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. Downing banged on his desk. sir. out of the question. the danger!" "Please. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. sir. The whole strength of the company: "Please. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. Stone. sir. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. sir. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. Stone. Mr. please. We cannot plunge into needless expense. sir. "Silence!" "Then. sir. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. get back to your place. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. sir-r-r!" "But. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. sir." said Stone. Well. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. Wilson?" "Please. perfectly preposterous. "Sit down!" he said. Mr. of course." said Robinson. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. listen to me. sit down--Wilson. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads.

" "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. sir?" asked Mike. sir. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice." as he reached the door. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. "It's outside the door." said Stone helpfully." he remarked frostily." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. We must have keenness. sir!" "This moment. "Noise. sir?" inquired Mike. Wilson!" "Yes. as many Wrykynians . sir." A pained "OO-oo-oo. Downing smiled a wry smile. _please_. puzzled. Wilson. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. "do me one hundred lines. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. there must be less of this flippancy. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. I want you boys above all to be keen. I'm not making a whining noise. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. sir?" asked Mike. sir? No. "Sir. no.Mr. mingled with cries half-suppressed. sir." "What _sort_ of noise. Those near enough to see. we are busy. Downing. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. "A bird. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. I think. "Our Wilson is facetious. And." was cut off by the closing door. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. Downing. "May I fetch a book from my desk. leave the room!" "Sir. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. "I think it's something outside the window. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr." he said. sir?" said a voice "off. sir-r-r." said Robinson. He was not alone. "Very well--be quick. Jackson. Mr. Downing. The muffled cries grew more distinct.

Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. others flung books. "Perhaps that's it. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. Jackson and Wilson. Downing shot out orders. What are you doing. Come in. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. Chaos reigned. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. "They do sometimes. if you do not sit down.had asked before him." Crash! . It is a curious whining noise. Henderson. The banging on Mr. sir." added Robinson. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. among the ruins barking triumphantly. Mr. Mr." said the invisible Wilson. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. sit down! Donovan. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. I said. _Quietly_." "Or somebody's boots. and was now standing. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. threats." put in Stone." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. all of you. go quietly from the room. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. all shouted. Downing acidly. "to imitate the noise. Some leaped on to forms. "A rat!" shouted Robinson." "They are mowing the cricket field. remain. like Marius. you will be severely punished." said Mr. bustling scene. "I do not propose. Vincent. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. rising from his place. Downing. Downing's desk resembled thunder. "Stone." "Yes. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. It was a stirring. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. sir. the same! Go to your seat. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. sir. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation.

so I came in----" "And by a fluke. Mr. Wilson?" "Please. Mr. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. but nevertheless a member. I fear. Jackson. too. Downing walked out of the room. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. sir. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. "One hundred lines." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun." It was plain to Mr. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. sir." he said. Wilson." And Mr. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Jackson. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. sir." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . Jackson. so he came in. Mike the dog." said Mike." said Wilson. as one who tells of strange things. but when you told me to come in. and he came in after the rat. and paid very little for it. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. come here. That will do." "I tried to collar him. I had to let him go. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. "You may go." The meeting dispersed. frivolous at times. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. Also he kept wicket for the school. but Mr. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. and had refused to play cricket. "Jackson and Wilson."Wolferstan. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. it was true. "Well. everybody. We are a keen school." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. Wilson had supplied the rat. Go quietly from the room. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. Downing turned to Mike.

You can freeze on to it.They say misfortunes never come singly. as a matter of fact. Mike put down his pen. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. done with. I do happen to have a quid." said Robinson. Robinson on the table. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. They sat down. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. sorry.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room." "Oh. "You're a sportsman. by return of post. Mike's heart warmed to them. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. they should have it. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. if you like. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. without preamble. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. He was in warlike mood. I'm in a beastly hole. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. forgotten. But it's about all I have got. the return match. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. "I say. (Which. he would be practically penniless for weeks. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. it may be stated at once." said Mike. after the Sammy incident. he did. The fact is. contemporary with Julius Caesar. asked for the loan of a sovereign. and got up. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. and. so don't be shy about paying it back. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. Jellicoe came into the room. Stone beamed. "As a matter of fact. There was. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. Robinson was laughing. and welcomed the intrusion. He felt that he." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again.

they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. As for Mike. and then they usually sober down." said Stone. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world.'" quoted Stone. he now found them pleasant company. You can do what you like. As to the kind of adventure. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. They were absolutely free from brain." "'We are." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. He got a hundred lines." "Don't you!" said Mike. above all. "I got Saturday afternoon. small and large. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. Masters were rather afraid of them. loud and boisterous. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. "Were you sacked?" "No. If you know one end of a bat from the other. They were useful at cricket. and you never get more than a hundred lines. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. you could get into some sort of a team. and a vast store of animal spirits. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. a keen school. "are a rag. Winifred's" brand. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread." said Mike." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No.public school. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. and began to get out the tea-things. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. They had a certain amount of muscle. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St." . and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. They go about. My pater took me away. "Well.

look here. for a start. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. do play. You _must_ play." said Stone. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. My word. You don't get ordered about by Adair. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. "Enough for six." "Masters don't play in house matches. I say. if I'd stopped on. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." said Stone. I was in the team three years. "Why. There are always house matches." . surely?" "This isn't a real house match. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. Only a friendly." said Robinson. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. "By Jove. and the others?" "Brother. Stone broke the silence." "Adair sticks on side. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. "I did. but they always have it in the fourth week. W. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. "I've got an idea." "Think of the rag. and I should have been captain this year. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. Stone gaped. I play for a village near here. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table." agreed Robinson. and knock the cover off him. yes. Place called Little Borlock." said Mike."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. I say. We're playing Downing's. "Why. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten." "What!" "Well.

"The list isn't up yet. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted." he said. Barnes appeared. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. "I say. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. "I say. I mean."But the team's full. Most leap at the opportunity. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. JACKSON. Jackson. "Thanks awfully." said Mike. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. then. and when. THEN. Mike was not a genuine convert." said Mike." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. Mr. Downing assumed it. He studied his _Wisden_. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket." They dashed out of the room." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. quite unexpectedly. Then footsteps returning down the passage. It was so in Mike's case. . "Are you the M. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. I was in the team. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. and a murmur of excited conversation." he said. and make him alter it. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. but to Mr. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert." "Yes.

above all." "In our house. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. It is the right spirit." he said. We are essentially versatile. Jackson. "a keen house. "We are. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. Drones are not welcomed by us. Smith? You are not playing yourself. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. Downing's No. Your enthusiasm has bounds. Mike. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. "What!" he cried. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. on the cricket field. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. as captain of cricket. working really hard. had naturally selected the best for his own match. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. * * * * * Barnes. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. sir. in the way he took . for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day." "Indeed. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. sir. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. becomes the cricketer of to-day." said Psmith earnestly. sir. the archaeologist of yesterday. Downing. competition is fierce. It was a good wicket. except for the creases. with a kind of mild surprise. Adair. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. I notice. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. Mike saw. who was with Mike. With Mike it was different. "I like to see it." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. where the nervous new boy. contrives to get an innings in a game. timidly jubilant. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. 2 manner--the playful.

Mr. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. as several of the other games had not yet begun. when delivered. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. The fieldsmen changed over. took three more short steps. as the ball came . His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. The ball. was billed to break from leg. and. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. The ball was well up. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. two long steps. Mike took guard. A half-volley this time. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. Mike slammed it back. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. and dashed up against the rails. and ended with a combination of step and jump. The first over was a maiden." said Mr. Downing irritably. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. but it stopped as Mr. He had got a sight of the ball now. "Get to them. six dangerous balls beautifully played. but the programme was subject to alterations. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. gave a jump. Mike went out at it.guard. Mike started cautiously. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. and he knew that he was good. in his stand at the wickets. Downing's slows. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. Jenkins. slow. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. failed to stop it. and mid-on. and off the wicket on the on-side. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. He took two short steps. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. This time the hope was fulfilled. they were disappointed.

it is usually as well to be batting. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. By the time the over was finished. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. uttered with painful distinctness the words. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. without the slightest success. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. This happened now with Mr. Jenkins. and Mike. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. The third ball was a slow long-hop. there was a strong probability that Mr. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. sat on the splice like a limpet. Downing bowled one more over. . please. And a shrill small voice. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. Mike had then made a hundred and three. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. Mr. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. and then retired moodily to cover-point.back from the boundary. and the total of his side. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. Downing. waited in position for number four. in addition. in Adair's fifth over. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. if you can manage it. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. where. Then he looked up. "Get to them. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. one is inclined to be abrupt." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Downing would pitch his next ball short. by three wides. and bowling well. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. offering no more chances. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. Scared by this escape. and. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. Adair came up. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed." "Sir. The expected happened.

"I didn't say anything of the kind. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. "I'm not keeping you. "I never saw such a chump. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Three years. I said I wasn't going to play here. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. politely. "Great Scott. "No. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. was met with a storm of opposition. The result was that not only he himself. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . As a matter of fact." Adair was silent for a moment. "Sick! I should think they would." There was a silence. I suppose?" "Not a bit. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. won't they?" suggested Barnes. am I?" said Mike. Mr. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. "Declare!" said Robinson. thanks. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. having got Downing's up a tree. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. Downing. and the school noticed it. Of all masters. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. There's a difference. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation." said Stone. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. Not up to it. "That's just the gay idea. too." There was another pause. "Above it. Barnes's remark that he supposed. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair.

Downing took a couple more overs." "Don't you worry about that. the small change. Time. and that is what happened now. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. I won't then. in one of which a horse." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. each weirder and more futile than the last.15." "Well. after a full day's play. Games had frequently been one-sided. But still the first-wicket stand continued. proceeded to get to business once more. passing in the road. These are the things which mark epochs. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. Mr. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. "Only you know they're rather sick already. Barnes." said Stone with a wide grin. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much." "Rather not. playing himself in again. going in first early in the morning. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks.can. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. and Stone came out. Bowlers came and went. Nor will Robinson. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. I swear I won't field. was bowling really well. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. "If you declare. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. Besides. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. if I can get it. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. Play was resumed at 2." said Robinson. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. And the rest. tried their luck. amidst applause. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day." said Barnes unhappily. or when one is out without one's gun. Adair. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. At four o'clock. In no previous Sedleigh match. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. greatly daring. it was assumed by the field.30. mercifully." "So do I. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. that directly he had topped his second century. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. The first-change pair are poor. and Mike. fortified by food and rest.

" "He's very touchy.. 124 .. J. And now let's start _our_ innings. Barnes. "Capital. capital.. DOWNING'S _Outwood's.. 277 W. sir." said Stone..." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. sir. _b_.) A grey dismay settled on the field... "Barnes!" he called.. Mike's pace had become slower. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. but an excellent eye. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's." "This is absurd. and the next over.. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_... He had an unorthodox style. Lobs were being tried... not out... First innings. _c_.. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.... a week later.. was mounting steadily. 33 M. as was only natural. nearly weeping with pure joy. as who should say.. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was. sir.. a slip of paper. and still Barnes made no sign..." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. "I think Barnes must have left the field..... being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force.. Jackson." Mr.way. There was no reply. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain.... we can't unless Barnes does. but his score... Downing." "It is perfect foolery. and the next after that. there was on view.. "This is foolery. too.." "Absurd... Downing walked moodily to his place. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. You must declare your innings closed. But the next ball was bowled.. Hassall. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad._ J... P. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board." "Declare! Sir.. Hammond. The game has become a farce. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him.. as a matter of fact. "Barnes!" "Please.." snapped Mr. Stone. and Stone.. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. not out. just above the mantelpiece..

When all ringing with song and merriment. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). if he had cared to take the part.. would have made Job foam at the mouth.... shifting his aching limbs in the chair...... "In theory.. Psmith. I should say that. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue.. Twenty-eight off one over.. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. Comrade Jellicoe and. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair." murmured Mike. here and there... You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out." "He doesn't deserve to.Extras.. "the the place was crept to my side.. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. not to mention three wides. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. in a small way.. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. I suppose.. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night.. it's worth it. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. Downing.. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr." ... felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. is. touched me This interested Mike. But your performance was cruelty to animals. slipping his little hand in mine.. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot." he said. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little.. fagged as he was. for three quid. could have been the Petted Hero. and Mike..." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. You will probably get sacked... leaning against the mantelpiece. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects." "I don't care.. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries.... "In an ordinary way. On the other hand. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel... 471 Downing's did not bat. Mike. In fact." said he.

I hope. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. Jackson!" he said. I'm stiff all over. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. "I say. I can't get to sleep. He wanted four." "Nor can I." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. Psmith chatted for general. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. It was done on the correspondence system." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. wrapped in gloom. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. who appeared to be to the conversation." Silence again." * * * * * a log. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. but he could not sleep. the various points of his innings that day. Well. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. ."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. "Are you asleep. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. nothing. We may be helping towards furnishing the home." There was a creaking. clinking sovereigns. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. and then dropped gently off. as the best substitute for sleep. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. when he's collected enough for his needs. he'll pay me back a bit. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. I'm pretty well cleaned out.

Especially my pater. I expect. After being sacked. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. and you'd go in." "Everybody's would. and you'd go out into the passage. And then you'd be sent into a bank. My sister would be jolly sick. and presently you'd hear them come in. you know. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. I meant." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. Jackson? I say. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. They might all be out. Have you got any sisters. and the servant would open the door." "Hullo?" "I say. "Nobody. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. So would mine. Why?" "Oh. Then he spoke again. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. "My pater would be frightfully sick. and then you'd have to hang about. and all that. But if you were. "Hullo?" he said. and you'd drive up to the house. or something."Jackson. I suppose. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen." "Happen when?" "When you got home. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way." Mike dozed off again. He was not really listening." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. I don't know. and wait. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . as it were. My mater would be sick. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." The bed creaked." "Yes. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. or to Australia. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. too. in order to give verisimilitude.

This thing was too much. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. do you?" "What!" cried Mike." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. though people whom he liked ." "Whose sisters?" "Yours." said Jellicoe eagerly." Mike pondered. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. Was it a hobby. He had some virtues and a good many defects. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. "Do _what_?" "I say. look out."Me--Jellicoe. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. "I say. You'll wake Smith." "Any _what_?" "Sisters." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. already looking about him for further loans. But it's jolly serious. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. where he was a natural genius. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. He was as obstinate as a mule. He changed the subject. of other members of English public schools. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. he was just ordinary. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. Except on the cricket field. He resembled ninety per cent. I asked if you'd got any." "Any what?" "Sisters.

he was never put off by discomfort or risk. Downing and his house realised this. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. He was rigidly truthful. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. The great match had not been an ordinary match. Young blood had been shed overnight. Yesterday's performance. As Psmith had said. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. The thought depressed him. Where it was a case of saving a friend. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. which made the matter worse. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. one good quality without any defect to balance it. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. In addition to this. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. He was good-natured as a general thing. It was a wrench. stood in a class by itself. Downing was a curious man in many ways. Mr. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. And when he set himself to do this.could do as they pleased with him. and had. till Psmith. in addition. it had to be done. It was a particularly fine day. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. Finally. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. however. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. . where the issue concerned only himself. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. He was always ready to help people. He had. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. but. he had never felt stiffer in his life. he was in detention. And Mr. Bob's postal order. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. which had arrived that evening. Downing to come. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. To begin with. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. Mr. That would probably be unpleasant. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. in his childhood. who had a sensitive ear. there was the interview with Mr.

Downing. when he has trouble with the crew. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock.Mr. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. When a master has got his knife into a boy. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. Which Mike. Just as. "No." "Please." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. Downing laughed bitterly. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. in the excitement of this side-issue. that prince of raggers. By the time he had reached his peroration. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. You must act a lie. As events turned out. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. which was as a suit of mail against satire. of necessity." "Well. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. since the glorious day when Dunster. at sea. the skipper. the speaker lost his inspiration. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. It would be too commonplace altogether. sir. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. he was perfectly right. did with much success. No. works it off on the boy. more elusive. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. "You are surrounded. no. sir. I have spoken of this before. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. That is to say. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. the user of it must be met half-way. he began in a sarcastic strain. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. you must conceal your capabilities. Far too commonplace!" Mr. Mike. For sarcasm to be effective. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. sir. that would not be dramatic enough for you. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. in their experience of the orator. And. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. Downing came down from the heights with a run." concluded Mr. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. So Mr. Macpherson. Mr. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's.

" he groaned. a long youth. Mike had strolled out by himself. "slamming about like that. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. The average person. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. Jellicoe was cheerful. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. puts his hands over his skull. man. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. as they crossed the field. is not a little confusing. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. and rather embarrassingly grateful. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air." "I'll give you a hand. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in." "Awfully sorry. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. uttering sharp howls whenever. "Silly ass." "It's swelling up rather. But I did yell. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. "I shall have to be going the pitch. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. on hearing the shout. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling." said Mike. . zeal outrunning discretion. crouches down and trusts to luck. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. Dunster. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang." said Mike. "Awfully sorry. you know. "or I'd have helped you over. To their left. he prodded himself too energetically. The bright-blazered youth walked up. Jellicoe hopping. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground." said Dunster.

"You needn't be a funny ass. pained. Mike made his way towards the pavilion." said Dunster. Dunster gave dawg. "Return of the exile. and turning. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. man." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room." . "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. Hullo! another man out.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. Have a cherry?--take one or two. Comrade Jackson." said Dunster. as he walked to the cricket field. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. "More. "more. Before he got there he heard his name called." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. I'd no idea I should find him here. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling." said Dunster. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. felt very much behind the times. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. The fifth ball bowled a man. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday." said Psmith. apply again." "Alas." said Psmith. "were at a private school together. faithful below he did his duty. I notice. and when you have finished those. Well hit. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos." "I heard about yesterday. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind." stirring sight when we met. Restore your tissues. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. Mike. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith." "Old Smith and I. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. fondling the beginnings of his moustache." said the animal delineator. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever." sighed Psmith. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. the darling of the crew.

he felt disinclined for exertion. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. I suppose." "I shall count the minutes. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. the sun was in my eyes." "Don't dream of moving. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. at last. I shall get sacked. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory." said Jellicoe gloomily. Soliloquy is a knack. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days.C." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. it'll keep till tea-time. "I mean. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. "I say. man." said Psmith to Mike. but probably only after years of patient practice." said Psmith. "it's too late. Personally." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. Mike stretched himself." "Has he?" said Psmith. "Oh! chuck it. do you?" he said. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. "I hadn't heard." said Psmith. I like to feel that I am doing good. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. I need some one to listen when I talk. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much.C. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. Hamlet had got it. not so much physical as mental. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe.

it can."It's about that money." said Mike. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. "it can't be helped." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "It doesn't matter. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." Jellicoe sat up." "I say. it's as easy as anything. "I'm awfully sorry. with a red and cheerful face." "Yes. He was a large. hang it!" he said. "Oh. Barley filled the post. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. do you think you could." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol." "He's the chap I owe the money to." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. has its comic man. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. stout man. he was the wag of the village team. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. "I say. Every village team." said Jellicoe miserably. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. it's frightfully decent of you. so I couldn't move. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. for some mysterious reason." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. only I got crocked. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." "What absolute rot!" "But. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. called Lower Borlock. who looked . look here. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. are you certain----" "I shall be all right." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important." "I say.

and be full of the milk he was quite different. "You can manage that. there was nothing strange in Mr. which was unfortunate. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness." "All right. and if Jellicoe owed it. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. "it's locked up at night. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. "I shall bike there. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time." "I say. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business." said Jellicoe. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. five pounds is a large sum of money. "if I can get into the shed. I----" "Oh. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. Besides." "I'll get it from him. but it did not occur to him to ask. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean ." he said. Probably in business hours After all." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. He took the envelope containing the money without question.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. I think. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. another. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. I won't tell him. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. chuck it!" said Mike.

his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. "Yes. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. being wishful to get the job done without delay. Mr. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. also. Probably he would have volunteered to come. Mike would have been glad of a companion. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. which. communicating with the boots' room. The place was shut. "Why. Jackson.expulsion. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. . until he came to the inn. sir?" said the boots. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. there you are. The advantage an inn has over a private house." said Psmith. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. 'ullo! Mr. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. Psmith had yielded up the key. with whom early rising was not a hobby. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. by the cricket field. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. I've given you the main idea of the thing. Still. for many reasons. However. Mike did not want to be expelled. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. "I forget which. of course. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. which for the time being has slipped my memory. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. Jackson was easy-going with his family. "One of the Georges. too.

"I want to see Mr. Jackson." "The five--" Mr." Mr. and requested him to read it." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. hoping for light. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money." "I must see him. Jackson. of course. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. who was waiting patiently by. "Well. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. . Jack. if it's _that_--" said the boots. "Oh dear!" he said. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. Barley opened the letter. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. the five pounds." "Oh. thankful. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. and wiped his eyes. which creaked under him. Mr. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Jack. but rather for a solemn. I've got some money to give to him. It was an occasion for rejoicing." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. perhaps. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. "Dear. "What's up?" he asked. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. read it. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. and had another attack. Mr. Barley. Barley. dear!" chuckled Mr. "You can pop off. Then he collapsed into a chair. and now he felt particularly fogged. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike.

is another matter altogether." There was some more to the same effect. "he took it all in.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful.--"I send the £5. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. the affair of old Tom Raxley. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. Mr." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. BARLEY. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. "DEAR MR. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Mischief! I believe you. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. always up to it. and as sharp as mustard. The other day." it ran. Love us!" Mr. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. 'I'll have a game with Mr. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. simply in order to satisfy Mr. So I says to myself. Aberdeen terriers. which I could not get before. and the damage'll be five pounds. Mike. "Why. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. Jellicoe. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. about 'ar parse five. they are. Barley slapped his leg. took back the envelope with the five pounds. Mr. finishing this curious document. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. it was signed "T. Barley slapped his thigh. Barley's sense of humour. in fact. but. since. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. Mike was . or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. I hope it is in time. but to be placed in a dangerous position. and rode off on his return journey. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. last Wednesday it were. Jellicoe over this. G. Jane--she's the worst of the two.

and locked the door. of which the house was the centre. and gone to bed. and. Outwood's front garden. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. and as he wheeled his machine in. his foot touched something on the floor. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. Without waiting to discover what this might be. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. It was from the right-hand gate. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. however. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. Sergeant Collard . went out. Mike felt easier in his mind. Downing's house. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. This he accomplished with success. With this knowledge. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. as Mike came to the ground. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. after which he ran across to Outwood's. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the find this out for himself. There were two gates to Mr. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. and through the study window. and running. that the voice had come. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. nearest to Mr. On the first day of term. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. The suddenness. It was pitch-dark in the shed. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. As he did so. carried on up the water-pipe. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. his pursuer again gave tongue. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's.

disappeared as the runner. The other appeared startled. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. His thoughts were miles away. looking out on to the cricket field. The pursuer had given the thing up. at Wrykyn. if that was out of the question. His first impression. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. this time at a walk. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. but. . he supposed--on the school clock. turned into the road that led to the school. Having arrived there. increasing his girth. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. Meanwhile. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. He would wait till a quarter past. that he had been seen and followed. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. Like Mike. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. "Is that you. turned aside. and so to bed. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. He left his cover. Then he would trot softly back. with the sergeant panting in his wake. passing through the gate. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. His programme now was simple. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). but Time. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. He ran on. this was certainly the next best thing. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. instead of making for the pavilion. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. A sound of panting was borne to him. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. but he could not run. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. taking things easily. he sat on the steps. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. He would have liked to be in bed. Then the sound of footsteps returning. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. shoot up the water-pipe once more. as Mike. Focussing his gaze.was a man of many fine qualities. he was evidently possessed of a key. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. They passed the gate and went on down the road. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars.

Adair rode off. conveyed to him by Adair." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. three doughnuts. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. was a very fair stomach-ache. Jackson?" "What are you. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. So long." Mike turned away. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard."What are you doing out here. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. therefore. aroused from his first sleep by the news. an apple. Now it happened that Mr. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. The school clock struck the quarter. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. whistling between his teeth. He had despatched Adair for the doctor." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. After a moment's pause. One of the chaps in our house is bad. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. But Mr. He would be safe now in trying for home again. and. He was off like an . and Mr. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. half a cocoa-nut. Downing emerged from his gate. It came about. was now standing at his front gate. Downing. two ices. and washing the lot down with tea. He walked in that direction. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. Adair?" The next moment Mr. waiting for Adair's return. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. was disturbed in his mind. "I'm going for the doctor. with a cry of "Is that you. that Mike. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. and a pound of cherries. All that was wrong with MacPhee. at a range of about two yards. that MacPhee. as a matter of fact. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

"Dear me!" he said." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. he wanted revenge. He did not want to smile. he went straight to the headmaster. Mr. deeply interested. only. "He--he--_what_. I suppose not. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. The headmaster. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. Downing. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. escaped and rushed into the road. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world." "No. on the other hand. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. "One of the boys at the school. The Head. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. you say?" "Very big. you think?" "I am certain of it. was not in the best of tempers. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. taking advantage of the door being open. in spite of his strict orders. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question." said Mr. He had a cold in the head." Mr. who. did want to smile. no. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. It was not his . instead of running about the road. Downing. Mr. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. A big boy. whoever he was. He received the housemaster frostily.

not to mention cromlechs. Outwood. Oh yes. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. but without result. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. It was Mr. he would have to discover him for himself. and passed it on to Mr. and Mr." "Impossible. had seen. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. Downing was left with the conviction that. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. with the exception of Johnson III.. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. broke into a wild screech of laughter. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house." Which he did. Downing as they walked back to lunch. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. the rest was comparatively easy. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. unidentified. as far as I understand. at the time. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. who. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. The school filed out of the Hall to their various he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. Outwood who helped him. Downing. Mr. of Outwood's. Downing. It was only . Downing. and Fate. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. "Not actually in. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. if he wanted the criminal discovered. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. gave him a most magnificent start. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on." Mr. Downing. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. I think. Downing was not listening.

you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. "Did you catch sight of his face. Oo-oo-oo. sergeant." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. sir. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. but it finishes in time." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. ejecting the family." he said. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. yer. which the latter was about to do unasked. he rushed forth on the trail. Downing stated his case." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. sir. Dinner was just over when Mr. and I doubles after 'im prompt. he used to say. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. sir. In due course Mr. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. "Mr. found himself at liberty. in order to ensure privacy. Regardless of the claims of digestion.' he used to say. Having requested his host to smoke. sir--spotted 'im. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. sir. "I did. Outwood. Mr. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. yer young monkey. Downing. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. as a blind man could have told." he said." "Ah!" . sergeant?" "No. sir. Feeflee good at spottin'. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. I did.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. Downing arrived. I am. sir. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. Dook of Connaught. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. "Oo-oo-oo. "tells me that last night.

to a very large extent. put a handkerchief over his face. . if he persisted in making so much noise. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. sir. sir. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. "Well. sergeant.C."Bare-'eaded. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." "So do I. Good afternoon." Mr. and exhibited clearly. success in the province of detective work must always be. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. Outwood's house. Downing rose to go." "I hope not." he said. sergeant. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. "Good-afternoon." added the sergeant. Very hot to-day. on Wednesday. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. 'cos yer see. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. with a label attached. while Sergeant Collard. and dusted.C. rested his feet on the table. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. but it was a dark night." "Pray do not move. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. and slept the sleep of the just." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. rubbing the point in. sir." "Good-afternoon to you. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. is it not?" "Feeflee warm. having requested Mrs. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. sergeant. the result of luck. The school plays the M. sir." And Mr. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. sir. "I will find my way out.

how--?" and all the rest of it. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. All these things passed through Mr. Mr. But if ever the emergency does arise. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. There were. but. if he only knew. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. tight-lipped smiles. to detect anybody. now that he had started to handle his own first case. Watson increased with every minute. It certainly was uncommonly hard." the boy does not reply. only a limited number of boys in Mr. having capped Mr. Mr. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. it would have complicated matters. saying: "My dear Holmes. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. and his methods. It is practically Stalemate. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. "Sir. we should have been just as dull ourselves. As he brooded over the case in hand. requested that way peculiar to some boys. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. but.The average man is a Doctor Watson. Probably. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. What he wanted was a clue. unless you knew who had really done the crime. when Fate once more intervened. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. as a matter of fact. there were clues lying all over the place. just as the downtrodden medico did. and leaves the next move to you. If you go to a boy and say. a junior member of his house. shouting to him to pick them up. Outwood's house. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. this time in the shape of Riglett. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. of course. his sympathy for Dr. he thought. even and. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . but even if there had been only one other. We should simply have hung around.

Downing. however. It was the ground-man's paint. Then Mr. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Mr. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. "and be careful where you tread. beneath the disguise of the mess. Downing unlocked the door. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. Much thinking had made him irritable. He felt for his bunch of keys. Downing remembered. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon." he said. to be considered. "Get your bicycle. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. Then suddenly. "Pah!" said Mr. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Mr. extracted his bicycle from the rack. A foot-mark! No less. Watson a fair start. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. The sound recalled Mr. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Watson could not have overlooked. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. leaving Mr. And this was a particularly messy mess. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. walking delicately through dry places. In the first place. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. and finally remarked. A foot-mark." Riglett. Downing saw it. and he is a demon at the game. The air was full of the pungent scent. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. What he saw at first was not a Clue. Paint. then on his right. he saw the clue. Give Dr. Yoicks! There were two things. but just a mess. blushed. stood first on his left foot. Downing.bicycle from the shed. Your careful detective must consider everything. Downing to mundane matters. Mr. Downing. now coughed plaintively. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. Riglett. Red paint. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. and made his way to the shed.

sir. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. There's a barn just before you get to them. "No. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. don't get up. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. His book had been interesting. "Oh. Quite so. There are three in a row. Thank you. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. I didn't go into the shed at all. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No." "I see. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage." "It is spilt all over the floor. He rapped at the door of the first. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. by the way. and the ground-man came out in . I suppose. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. You did not do that." he said. He could get the ground-man's address from him. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. Oh. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. on the right as you turn out into the road. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. Adair. sir. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. I shall be able to find them. Adair. Things were moving.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. but I could show you in a second. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. on returning to the house. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. Adair. that there was paint on his boots. sir. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. His is the first you come to." "Thank you.

That is all I wished to know. and denounce him to the headmaster. sir. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. with the result that it has been kicked over. It was Sunday. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. sir. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. thank you." Mr. On the shelf at the far end. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk." "On the floor?" "On the floor. thank you. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so." "Do you want it. as was indeed the case. Markby. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. Thank you. blinking as if he had just woke up. sir?" "No. sir. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. sir? No. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. Outwood's house somewhere. Quite so. sir. The thing had become simple to a degree. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed.his shirt-sleeves. and spilt. Picture. Just as I thought. Regardless of the heat. The fact is. Markby. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. Tell me. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. no. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. He was hot on the scent now. too." "Of course. It wanted a lick of paint bad. All he had to do was to go to Mr. ascertain its owner. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK ." "Just so. Markby. yes. An excellent idea. You had better get some more to-morrow. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. "Oh. Makes it look shabby. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down.

He is welcome to them. Downing arrived. no matter. That is to say.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith." "'Tis well. "Or shall I fetch Mr. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. "Enough of this spoolery. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. and Psmith. "There's a kid in France. so he merely inclined his head gracefully." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. . he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. sir. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other." said Mike. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. as he passed. sir?" "Do as I tell you." "With acute pleasure. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room." murmured Psmith courteously. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound." said Psmith. Outwood. "What the dickens." Mike walked on towards the field. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. and said nothing. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. "I was an ass ever to try it. Smith. "A warm afternoon. found Mr. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel." said Mike disparagingly. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. who had just entered the house. What brings him round in this direction. sir. I will be with you in about two ticks." said he. Downing. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. I wonder! Still." snapped Mr. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo.

Downing nodded." said Psmith. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. crimson in the face with the exercise. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. "I think he's out in the field. Downing stopped short. sir? No. sir?" he asked. Downing paused." They moved on up the passage. That's further down the passage. Smith. panting slightly. "I beg your pardon. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. "Here. It is Mr. sir. Mr. sir. opening a door. Here we have----" Mr. "Show me the next dormitory. Downing with asperity. sir. "Are you looking for Barnes." he said. Smith. Psmith waited patiently by. but went down to the matron's room. The observation escaped me unawares. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. sir." Mr. "Is this impertinence studied. The matron being out. Smith. "to keep your remarks to yourself. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. Mr. "Shall I lead the way. sir?" inquired Psmith politely." Mr. having examined the last bed. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. An idea struck the master. "Excuse me. This is Barnes'.Psmith said no more. "we have Barnes' dormitory. sir. "Aha!" said Psmith. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. I understand. then moved on. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. The master snorted suspiciously. Mr." said Mr. "This." "I was only wondering. Downing rose. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. baffled. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain." said Psmith." he cried. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. Each boy. "The studies." said Psmith. Downing looked at him closely. . An airy room. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood.

" "Never mind about his cricket." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. that Mr. the field. Downing with irritation. Downing raked the room with a keen eye." Mr. The cricketer. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. sir. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. sir." said Psmith. sir?" said Psmith. sir. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy." "Ah! Thank you."Whose is this?" he asked. No. "This." Mr. Downing suddenly started. even in the dusk. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. And. Downing pondered. "A lovely view. they go out extremely quickly. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. sir. is mine and Jackson's. sir. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. Smith." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. "The trees." said Mr. "No. the distant hills----" Mr. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study." "Not at all. sir. putting up his eyeglass. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. sir." "I think. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. Smith?" "Jackson. is it not. "Have you no bars to your windows here. Smith. rapping a door. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. sir. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything .

As it was. Downing looked up. sir." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. "His boots. he would have achieved his object. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. sir. Psmith leaned against the wall." he said. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. Boots flew about the room. at early dawn. sir. sir. he did not know. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. and dumped is down on the study floor. and bent once more to his task. prompting these manoeuvres. Downing knelt on the floor beside ." his life. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. he was certain. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room." "Smith. But that there was something. Mr. collects them. "go and bring that basket to me here." said Mr. our genial knife-and-boot boy. I noticed them as he went out just now. Such a moment came to Mr. "I should say at a venture. Smith?" "Not one. "a fair selection of our various bootings. I believe. "On the spot. Downing then. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. that they would be in the basket downstairs. Psmith had noticed. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. he rushed straight on. trembling with excitement. Edmund. "We have here." Mr. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. "Smith!" he said excitedly. sir--no. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. and straightened out the damaged garment." said Psmith affably. It was a fine performance. If he had been wise. Downing. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. by a devious and snaky route." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. Downing stooped eagerly over it. Mr. sir? He has them on. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction.

After a moment Psmith followed him. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot." "Shall I put back that boot. when Mr. Thither Mr." he said. Smith. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. Bridgnorth.the basket. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. might be a trifle undignified. then. Downing reflected. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. "Yes. of course. one puts two and two together. "Ah. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. sir?" Mr. Smith. Downing made his way. rising. and." "Shall I carry it. carrying a dirty boot." he said. with an exclamation of triumph. He knew nothing. . the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. "Put those back again. Downing. "I think it would be best. "No." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. sir. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. "That's the lot. Psmith took the boot. It was "Brown. The ex-Etonian. "Indeed?" he said. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. Downing had finished. sir?" "Certainly not." "Come with me. Downing left the room. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Leave the basket here. and when. of course. The headmaster was in his garden. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. You can carry it back when you return. At last he made a dive. rose to his feet. boot-maker. I shall take this with me." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. sir. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake." as he did so. and doing so. In his hand he held a boot." Mr. on the following day. began to pick up the scattered footgear. understood what before had puzzled him." he said. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Psmith looked at it again.

Mr. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. But. you say. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. Downing. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. Mr. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest... putting up his eyeglass. not uncommon. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. Downing. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. It was a broad splash right across the toe. Mr. "There was paint on this boot." The headmaster interposed." "This is foolery." said Psmith chattily.. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. I saw it with my own eyes. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. this boot with exactly where Mr. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. is the--? Just so. sir. Psmith. I fancy. Just Mr. the cynosure of all eyes. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. red or otherwise." he said vehemently. "You must have made a mistake. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. sir. Smith will bear me out in this. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. er."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. "now let me so. There was no paint on this boot." said the headmaster. Smith. Just. "who was remarkably subject----" . Downing was the first to break the silence. These momentary optical delusions are. Of any suspicion of paint. fixed stare. putting on a pair of look at--This.

"that is surely improbable. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it." "It is undoubtedly black now. Downing. If Mr. "My theory." "Yes. sir?" said Psmith. Smith. had not time to fade. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. Downing recollects. sir." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. with simple dignity." "Exactly. at the moment. "May I go now. sir. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. streaming in through the window. I cannot have been mistaken." said Mr. sir. Shall I take the boot with me. I can assure you that it does not brush off." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. Smith. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. sir. Mr. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. Mr. Smith?" "Did I speak. if I may----?" "Certainly." "A sort of chameleon boot. The afternoon sun. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness." said the headmaster. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. he did not look long at the boot." said Psmith. "What did you say. "My theory." "Really. is that Mr." "You are very right."It is absurd. I remember thinking myself." said the headmaster." murmured Psmith. sir?" . Downing shortly. Downing looked searchingly at him." "I am reading it. "You had better be careful. "for pleasure. Downing. The picture on the retina of the eye." said Psmith. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. Smith. Mr. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. really. The goaded housemaster turned on him. Downing. "Well. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. sir. consequently. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own." said Psmith with benevolent approval.

however. laid down his novel. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind." he said. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. "I wish to look at these boots again. Psmith and Mike." he said. sir?" "Yes. "I can manage without your help. and lock the cupboard. Put it away. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. left the garden. The scrutiny irritated Mr. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. and Mr. On arriving at the study. Downing was brisk and peremptory. "That thing. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. he reflected." Psmith sat down again. Mr. in fact the probability. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. he. Without brain. too."If Mr. Psmith. if they had but known it. "Put that thing away." said the housemaster. with a sigh. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. was a most unusual sight." . every time. Smith. and rose to assist him. The possibility. having included both masters in a kindly smile. the spectacle of Psmith running. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. Smith." he said to himself approvingly. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. he raced down the road. that ridiculous glass. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. and turning in at Outwood's gate. where are we? In the soup. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. and the latter. "Sit down. "Brain. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. were friends. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. Downing appeared. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. Outwood's at that moment saw what. On this occasion. Downing. hurried over to Outwood's.

"Yes. now thoroughly irritated." "I guessed that that was the reason. and looked wildly round the room. We do not often use it. and his chin on his hands. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. of harbouring the quarry. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. he stood up." "I was interested in what you were doing. sir?" "Yes. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. Downing rapped the door irritably." "Thank you. who. There was very little cover there. sir?" asked Psmith. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was." Psmith took up his book again. "Yes." "Open it. sir. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. "Just a few odd trifles. lodged another complaint. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. sir. After the second search. sir. read if you like. A ball of string." "Never mind. on sight. This cupboard. Downing. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. but each time without success." "May I read. He rested his elbows on his knees. Possibly an old note-book. His eye roamed about the room. sir. "Don't sit there staring at me." Mr. perhaps. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. after fidgeting for a few moments. "Smith!" he said."Why. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. Nothing of value or interest." "I think you will find that it is locked. The floor could be acquitted. He went through it twice. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. and Mr." . Then he caught sight of the cupboard. sir. Smith. patiently.

Downing paused. and ask him to be good ." Mr. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. sir. if Smith were left alone in the room. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. I shall break open the door. staring into vacancy. Then he was seized with a happy idea. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key." "But where is the key. He also reflected. amazed. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. And I know it's not Mr." he said. Jackson might have taken it. sir. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. sir. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it." Psmith got up. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. And he knew that. you must get his permission. sir."Unlock it. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. Downing thought for a moment. Outwood. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. If you wish to break it open. Downing stared. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. Outwood. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. Smith would be alone in the room. Mr. Outwood." Mr. perhaps----! On the other hand. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. "Yes. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me." Mr." he said shortly. "go and find Mr. I am only the acting manager. "I don't believe a word of it. "Smith." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. Smith?" he inquired acidly.

which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. ha. "Yes." he continued. and explain to him how matters stand." "one cannot. If you will go to Mr. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. as who should say. sir. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. to take a parallel case.enough to come here for a moment. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. I would fly to do your bidding. If you pressed a button." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. "Go and find Mr. however. "Let us be reasonable. But in Mr. I say to myself. Smith?" Mr." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. "Do you intend to disobey me. One cannot. "If you will let me explain." "What!" "Yes. Outwood's house. 'Psmith. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. I ought to have remembered that before. "I take my stand. who resumed the conversation. Smith. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith." Psmith still made no move. "_Quick_. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Mr. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. I would do the rest." he said. Outwood. Smith. 'Mr. sir. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. sir. "Thwarted to me face. So in my case. Downing's voice was steely." he said. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . His manner was almost too respectful. "on a technical point. your word would be law. Outwood. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. Mr. and come back and say to me. Outwood at once. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say.

the latter looking dazed. when it had stopped swinging. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. Placing this in the cupboard. "Yes. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. and. and with him Mr. "Where have you been. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor." . His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. Then he turned to the boot. Mr. and let the boot swing free. Outwood. Downing sharply. unlocked the cupboard. "Very well. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket." snapped the" He took the key from his pocket. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face." added Mr. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. sir. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. Outwood. and took out the boot. at any rate. he went to the window. Downing suspiciously. Smith. You see my difficulty. Downing was in the study." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. Smith. Smith?" asked Mr." why he should not do so if he wishes it. sir. "I have been washing my hands. and thrust it up the chimney. He went there. A shower of soot fell into the grate.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. and washed off the soot. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. "Smith. as the footsteps died away. blackening his hand. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. He tied the other end of the string to this. "But. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. Downing stalked out of the room." "I can assure you. Outwood." said Mr. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. I shall not tell you again." "H'm!" said Mr. there will be a boot there when you return. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. Outwood with spirit." "My dear Outwood. up which Mike had started to climb the night before." Mr. He noticed with approval." added Psmith pensively to himself. Downing wishes me to do. When he returned. he re-locked the door.

A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. Downing was examining his find. The wood splintered. if you look at it sideways." "If I must explain again. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. "This boot has no paint on it. approvingly." "I wondered where that boot had got to. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . "I told you. "to be free from paint. do you understand?" Mr." said Psmith. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. round-eyed. Let me see. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint."Exactly. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. and painted my dog Sampson red. Smith?" "I must have done. with any skeletons it might contain. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. sir. At any rate. He never used them. Outwood. "Why?" "I don't know why." "He painted--!" said Mr. "Did you place that boot there. none at all." he said. Downing shortly." said Psmith sympathetically. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Mr. "Objection? None at all. my dear fellow. "I've been looking for it for days." he added helpfully. Mr. was open for all to view." he said. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. Now. Psmith'a expression said. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. The cupboard." said Mr. Downing seized one of these. "You have touched the spot. Outwood. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. my dear Outwood." "So with your permission. sir. Downing?" interrupted Mr. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Outwood started. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment." said Psmith." Mr. "I told you. Then. and tore the boot from its resting-place. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Have you any objection?" Mr. belonging to Mike. Outwood with asperity. glaring at Psmith. he did. Last night a boy broke out of your house. "We must humour him. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard." "It certainly appears. "This is not the boot.

not to have given me all this trouble. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. he used the sooty hand. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. Apply them. Downing's eye. though." he said. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. SMITH?"] "Yes. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. sir. and a thrill went through him." "No. "Ah. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. "Fun!" Mr. Downing a good. but he ignored it." "It's been great fun. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. hard knock. sir. Smith. Smith?" he asked slowly. after all." argued Psmith." said Psmith. sir. Downing. Outwood off his feet. "We all make mistakes. Mr. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. "I thought as much. He looked up. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. Unfortunately. nearly knocking Mr. my dear Watson. You were not quite clever enough. sir. You have done yourself no good by it. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. and thrust an arm up into the unknown.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. A little more. "WHAT!" . working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw." "You would have done better. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE.") Mr. from earth to heaven." Mr. "Animal spirits. Outwood had the grate. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. Smith. Downing laughed grimly. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. once more. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot." said Psmith patiently." he said. It should have been done before. and one could imagine him giving Mr. baffled. He bent down to "Dear me. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth.

It is positively covered with soot. for the time being. the boot-boy. and it was improbable that Mr. Downing had found the other. His fears were realised. just as he was opening his mouth. intervened. but on the whole it had been worth it. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. It was the knock-out. It seemed to him that. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. he saw. my dear fellow. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. soap. For. though one can guess roughly. "My dear Downing. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. In the language of the Ring. Edmund. worked in some mysterious cell. he took the count. as he had said. Let me show you the way to my room. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. "You will hear more of this. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. and sponges." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. "Soot!" "Your face is covered." said Psmith. for a man of refinement."Animal spirits. accordingly. You are quite black. You must come and wash it. he went up to the study again. It had been trying. Psmith went to the window." he said. "I say you will hear more of it. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. It would take a lot of cleaning. * * * * * When they had gone. He went down beneath it. . Having restored the basket to its proper place." What Mr. most. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. "your face. of course. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. far from the madding crowd. and it had cut into his afternoon. positively. until he should have thought out a scheme. The boot-cupboard was empty." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. Outwood. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. at the back of the house. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. Smith. sir. you present a most curious appearance. sir." he said. at about the same height where Mr. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. Mr. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. and hauled in the string. quite covered. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. Mr. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. Really." Then he allowed Mr.

he thought. thank goodness. "No. So in the case of boots. sir. At a school. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. I mean--Oh. there's the bell. the thing creates a perfect sensation. Mr. It was not altogether forgetfulness.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. "I may have lost a boot. Jackson. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. if he does. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. Jackson. if the day is fine." as much as to say. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. for instance." he said. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. he should not wear shoes. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. I can still understand sound reasoning. Boys say. "One? What's the good of that. but. which one observes naturally and without thinking. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. There is no real reason why. But. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. "Well. dash it. "'Ere's one of 'em. had no views on the subject. There was nothing. Edmund. So Psmith kept his own counsel. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. Psmith was no exception to the rule. Mr. "Jones." replied Edmund to both questions. "Great Scott. Edmund. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot." Edmund turned this over in his mind. to be gained from telling Mike. and then said. should he prefer them. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings." "Well.

There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. sir. with a few exceptions. They cannot see it. as he usually did. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. sir?" said Mike. Then. and finally "That will do. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them.. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. he told him to start translating. abuse. Mr. looking on them. and the subsequent proceedings. but they feel it in their bones. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. lines. leaning back against the next row of desks. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. Downing who gave trouble. was taken unawares. Satire. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval.." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . accompanying the act with some satirical remark. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. Jackson?" "Pumps. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite." mechanically. On one occasion. Downing's lips. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. But. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. and the form. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. Mr. called his name. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. "I have lost one of my boots. accordingly. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. as worms. Mike. He said "Yes. of a vivid crimson. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. stiffening like a pointer. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. "Yes." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. It was only Mr. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. he floundered hopelessly.. turning to Stone. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. sir. yes." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. or else to pull one of them off. Stone. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. had regarded Mike with respect.

sir. and no strain. and sped to the headmaster." said Stone. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. and all that sort of thing. to wit. in the cool morning air. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not.returned. jumping on board. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. Until the sun has really got to work. came to a momentous decision. yawning and heavy-eyed.C." "I shouldn't wonder. compared with Mike's. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. Downing's mind was in a whirl. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. match on the Wednesday. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. which nobody objects to. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. he gathered up his gown. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson." . Downing feel at that moment. "I don't intend to stick it. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. it is no joke taking a high catch. said.C. As a rule. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast." "Personally. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. Mike himself. completed the chain. "Wal. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. gnawing his bun. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. In view of the M. They played well enough when on the field. Rushing about on an empty stomach. Mr. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. His case was complete." said Stone. I mean. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. and the first American interviewer. Mike's appearance in shoes. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. consequently. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. "It's all rot." said Robinson. that searching test of cricket keenness. however.

wherever and however made.C. unless he is a man of action. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. the keenness of those under him. You two must buck up. Stone was the first to recover. who his right. He can't play the M. are easily handled. as they left the shop. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. At breakfast that morning thought. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. Mr. The majority." "I mean. You were rotten to-day. with a scratch team. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. Barnes was among those present." At this moment Adair came into the shop. questioned on the subject. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. after all? Only kick us out of the team. The result of all this was that Adair. "He can do what he likes about it. "at six. Stone and Robinson felt secure. he'd better find somebody else. practically helpless. it's such absolute rot." he said. Which was not a great help." "I don't think he will kick us out. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind." "All right. and the chance of making runs greater. found himself two short. Taking it all round." "Yes. either." Their position was a strong one. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches." he said briskly. Downing. of course. "Let's. And I don't mind that. had no information to give. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. Besides."Nor do I. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. and.C." And he passed on. "Rather. With the majority. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay." "Nor do I. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. consequently. but in reality he has only one weapon. leaving the two malcontents speechless." said Robinson. then he finds himself in a difficult position. Barnes. If he does. you know." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . what can he do.

But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties." Robinson laughed appreciatively. said nothing. "I know you didn't." Adair's manner became ominously calm. He resolved to interview the absentees. To-day." "Oh?" "Yes. "We didn't turn up. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. I suppose?" "That's just the word." he said. who. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. not having seen the paper. "You were rather fed-up. "We decided not to. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson." said Stone. "Hullo." "Sorry it bored you. Adair!" "Don't mention it. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "Sorry." "It didn't. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. physical or moral. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. He never shirked anything. however. . We didn't give it the chance to. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. Many captains might have passed the thing over. Stone spoke. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air.daily paper before the bell rang. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain.

"You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. We've told you we aren't going to. Nor Robinson?" "No. you are now." said the junior partner in the firm. "I wasn't ready." "You can turn out if you feel like it. "I was only thinking of something." "I'll give you something else to think about soon."What's the joke. with some haste. All the same. "There's no joke. We'll play for the school all right. Of course. Shall we go on?" . you can kick us out of the team." said Robinson. You won't find me there. Adair." "Good. Robinson?" asked Adair. and was standing in the middle of the open space. So we're all right. as you seem to like lying in bed." Stone intervened." said Adair quietly." said Stone." "Don't be an ass. He was up again in a moment. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort." "That'll be a disappointment. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. Adair. "It's no good making a row about it. if you like." "What!" "Six sharp. I'll give you till five past six. "You cad." "You don't think there is? You may be right. I think you are. but we don't care if you do. "Right. Adair had pushed the table back." "That's only your opinion. you're going to to-morrow morning. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for." said Stone. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. Don't be late. You must see that you can't do anything. and knocked him down." "Well. but he said it without any deep conviction.

even in a confined space. "You don't happen to know if he's in. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone." said Adair. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator." said Adair. He was not altogether a coward. "I'll turn up. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. How about you." said Stone. "Thanks. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. but he was cooler and quicker.Stone dashed in without a word. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair." said Adair. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "All right. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." he said hastily." "Good." Stone made no reply." "I'll go and see. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. I don't know if he's still there. "Thanks. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. and he knew more about the game. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. But science tells. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. "All right.

Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. Altogether. It might have made all the difference. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. * * * * * Psmith. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. The Ripton match. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out.. was hard lines on Ripton. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. that Adair. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey.C. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds.on below stairs. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. In school cricket one good batsman. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. "If you ask my candid opinion. looking up from his paper. which had been ebbing during the past few days. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. He's had a . had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. returned with a rush. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. This was one of them. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. The M. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. entered the room. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. wrote Strachan. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle." he said. including Dixon.C. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. when his resentment was at its height. A broken arm. fortunately. everything had gone wrong. led by Mike's brother Reggie. In fact. said Strachan. and went on reading. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. was off. The Incogs. And it was at this point. Since this calamity. Psmith was the first to speak. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. Which. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. If only he could have been there to help. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. Mike mourned over his suffering school. the fast bowler.

go thee." said Adair. We must Do It Now. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. Shakespeare. "I'm not the man I was. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. Despatch." said Adair. "It didn't last long. "We weren't exactly idle. We must be strenuous. "has led your footsteps to the right place. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing." Mike got up out of his chair. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. "Surely. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. but it was pretty lively while it did." "That. knave." Psmith turned away." said Mike." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. "Certainly. after a prolonged inspection.C." he sighed." said Adair grimly. I'll none of thee. "is right. Speed is the key-note of the present age. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. We would brood. I thought that you and he were like brothers." he said. This is no time for loitering. We----" "Buck up. "There are lines on my face. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. Leave us. Adair was looking for trouble. which might possibly be made dear later. is waiting there with a sandbag. dark circles beneath my eyes. the poacher. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school. We must hustle.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson." "What do you want?" said Mike. That is Comrade Jackson." said Psmith approvingly. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass." said Psmith. The fact that the M.C. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. the Pride of the School. He could not quite follow what all this was about. For some reason. Promptitude. sitting before you. "I'll tell you in a minute." "Fate. Stone chucked it after the first round. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. I bet Long Jack. It won't take long. too." ." said Psmith. Oh." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. Adair. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. Care to see the paper. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise.

" replied Adair with equal courtesy. "Oh?" said Mike at last. isn't it?" "Very.C. I know.C. and I want you to get some practice. "are a bit close together. You aren't building on it much. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. Mike said nothing." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." Mike remained silent. . "So are you.C." he added philosophically. "I'm going to make you. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. He said he wouldn't. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit.?" he asked curiously." said Psmith regretfully. However. rather.said Adair. turning to Mike." "I don't think so. to-morrow." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. Mike looked at Adair. and in that second Psmith." added Adair. "I am." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. "I get thinner and thinner. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. are you?" said Mike politely. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed." "My eyes." Mike took another step forward. so we argued it out. There was an electric silence in the study. "What makes you think I shall play against the M. "it's too late to alter that now. stepped between them. He's going to all right. So is Robinson. and Adair looked at Mike." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. Adair moved to meet him. turning from the glass.C. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview.

with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form." he said. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. If you really feel that you want to scrap. Directly Psmith called "time. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. one was probably warmly attached to him. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. Up to the moment when "time" was called. one does not dislike one's opponent. But school fights. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. without his guiding hand. then." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. nothing could have prevented him winning. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. a mere unscientific scramble. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. however much one may want to win." After which."Get out of the light. In a boxing competition. as a rule. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. "The rounds. "will be of three minutes' duration. The latter was a clever boxer. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. only a few yards down the road. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. where you can scrap all night if you want to. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. "My dear young friends. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. Are you ready. It was this that saved Mike. I suppose you must. what would have been. with a minute rest in between. and are consequently brief and furious. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. . Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. Smith. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. In a fight each party. I lodge a protest." said Mike. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. Time. If Adair had kept away and used his head. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. hates the other. On the present occasion. producing a watch." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch." he said placidly. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. Dramatically.

"Brief. but Jackson. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through." said Psmith. and he was all but knocked out. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. was strange to him. however. Mike Jackson. coming forward." said Psmith. the cricketer. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. Jackson. he knew. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. which would do him no earthly good. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. that there was something to be said for his point of view. I'll look after him. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. and. he threw away his advantages. as anybody looking on would have seen. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. At the same time. "_He's_ all right. If it's going to be continued in our next. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. thirty seconds from the start. now rendered him reckless. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. that Adair was done. The Irish blood in him. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. I think. Then he lurched forward at Mike. Mike could not see this. This finished Adair's chances. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. do you think?" asked Mike. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. I shouldn't stop. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. so he hit out with all his strength. the deliverer of knock-out blows." "Is he hurt much. after all. "but exciting. There was a swift exchange of blows. He got up slowly and with difficulty. You go away and pick flowers. He abandoned all attempt at guarding.As it was. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. Mike had the greater strength. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. In the excitement of a fight--which is. He went in at Mike with both hands. He rose full of fight. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. Psmith saw. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. if I were you. and then Adair went down in a heap. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. but with all the science knocked out of him. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. . to be the conclusion of the entertainment." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. We may take that. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. The feat presented that interesting person.

after much earnest thought. but every one to his taste. in fact. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up." said Mike indignantly. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. He's not a bad cove." said Mike. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. There was a pause. when Psmith entered the study. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. You didn't. As a start. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. of course?" "Of course not. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. Psmith straightened his tie. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. to return to the point under discussion. It shook him up. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. Where." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself.C. "Look here. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up." continued Psmith. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down.' game. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. not afraid of work. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. if possible. However. "How's Adair?" asked Mike.C. It's not a bad idea in its way. before. to a certain extent. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. "Sha'n't play. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons." he said. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more.The fight. and drained the bad blood out of him. We have been chatting. Jones. My eloquence convinced him." "He's all right. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. why not?" . had the result which most fights have. He had come to this conclusion. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife.

that I had found a haven of rest."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike." "Quite right. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. I do. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. but it was not to be. and after a while I gave up the struggle. but it was useless. I hate to think. I turn out to-morrow." said Psmith." "No. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. "You're what? You?" "I. when I came here. "my secret sorrow." "----Dismiss it. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. but look here." "You wrong me." said Psmith." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. I fought against it. where was I? Gone. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night." "You're rotting." Mike stared." said Psmith. and polishing it with his handkerchief. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. breathing on a coat-button. and drifted with the stream. However----" . Comrade Jackson. bar rotting. You said you only liked watching it. little by little. Smith. What Comrade Outwood will say. Last year. "If your trouble is. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. But when the cricket season came. And in time the thing becomes a habit." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. _I_ am playing. I did think.

what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. but useless to anybody who values life. broke in earnest. wavering on the point of playing for the school. Adair won't be there himself." he said. A moment later there was a continuous patter. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. Mike turned up his coat-collar. Since the term began. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. But. Then in a flash Mike understood. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. If Psmith. You won't have to. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. "At this rate. as the storm. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. I don't know. and ran back to Outwood's. which had been gathering all day. He's sprained his wrist. He's not playing against the M." On arriving at Mr. it went. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. I'll go round." "That's all right. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. I'll play. Anyhow. therefore. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match.C. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. A spot of rain fell on his hand. Close the door gently after you." "I say. Downing's and going to Adair's study. Psmith whimsically. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. "if you're playing. the recalcitrant. "By Jove. Here was he. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. and here was Psmith. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. He was not by nature intuitive. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. "there won't be a match at all . I'll write a note to Adair now." "Not a bad scheme.C. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so." he said to himself. And they had both worked it off. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. It's nothing bad." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. but he read Psmith's mind now.

We've got plenty of time." "Yes. after behaving well for some weeks. though. damp and depressed." * * * * * When the weather decides. in the gentle. So do When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. while figures in mackintoshes." "So do I." Another silence. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. "About nine to. to show what it can do in another direction." "Beastly. Adair fished out his watch. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. "Right ho!" said Adair. it does the thing thoroughly. and then the rain began again." "Oh. They walked on in silence." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. Might be three." "I often do cut it rather fine. . Mike. "It's only about ten to. Three if one didn't hurry. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. crawl miserably about the field in couples. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. met Adair at Downing's gate." "Yes." "Good. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. with discoloured buckskin boots. I should think. if one didn't hurry." "Beastly nuisance when one does. These moments are always difficult." "Yes." "I hate having to hurry over to school. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. isn't it?" said Mike. yes. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet.

"awfully sorry about your wrist."Beastly day. I say. "Rotten. that's all right." said Adair.. rot." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "Oh.." "Oh. It was only right at the end." "Rummy." "Oh. Smith turning out to be a cricketer.." said Mike.. rot. It looks pretty bad. that's all right." "We've heaps of time. no. You'd have smashed me anyhow.. "I say. thanks. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." Silence again. doesn't it?" "Rotten. probably. Jolly hard luck. "I don't know." .. no. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week." "Yes." "I bet you anything you like you would." "Oh. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. "Five to." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. just before the match.. scowling at his toes." "I bet you I shouldn't." "Yes. Less. I say." "Good.. with his height. Adair produced his watch once more. rather not." "Oh. no." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. we ought to have a jolly good season. It was my fault. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself.." "Now that you and Smith are going to play.

" "Of course. Smith told me you couldn't have done. Mike." "Of course not. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. really. He eluded the pitfall. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. I know. Everybody's as keen as blazes. and come to a small school like this. no. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. even if he had. after the way you've sweated. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. . shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. "Yes." "No. on the Chinese principle. isn't it?" or words to that effect. that's all right. no." "I didn't want to play myself. rotten little hole. and blundered into a denunciation of the place." "No." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. for the second time in two days."Yes. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. not playing myself." Adair shuffled awkwardly. "I say. It was only for a bit. as it were: for now." "It was rotten enough. I wouldn't have done it. "What rot!" he said. fortunately. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have." "Oh. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. I know." "He never even asked me to get him a place. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. heaps." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. So they ought to be.

If only we could have given this M. My jaw still aches. lot a really good hammering. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. and really." "All right. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. there's the bell. You'd better get changed. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. they're worse. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. We sha'n't get a game to-day.C. "_You_ were all right. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. "By jove. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. I wish we could play. of anything like it. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. I've never had the gloves on in my life. anyhow. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much."I've always been fairly keen on the place. we'd walk into them. and hang about in case. Dash this rain." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. We've got math. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. They'd simply laugh at you. As for the schools. then. we've got a jolly hot lot. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. so I don't see anything of him all day." Mike stopped. They began to laugh. which won't hurt me. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. You see. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. There's quite decent batting all the way through. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. As you're crocked.C. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. "if that's any comfort to you. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. I don't know which I'd least soon be." "I don't know that so much. We'd better be moving on." ." he said. till the interval." "It might clear before eleven. "I can't have done. and the bowling isn't so bad. now that you and Smith are turning out. with you and Smith." said Adair." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. with a grin." said Mike. I never thought of it before. I must have looked rotten." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. at the interval. Downing or a black-beetle. Hullo." "You've loosened one of my front teeth." "What! They wouldn't play us. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. when you get to know him. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. because I'm certain. I'm not sure that I care much. who doesn't count.

"A nuisance. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. edge away.C. The whisper flies round the clubs." said Psmith. To which Adair. yesterday.C. "By Jove. with a message that Mr. it seemed. "this incessant demand for you. For the moment I am baffled." Mike changed quickly. We'll smash them. Meanwhile. was agitated. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. I'm pretty sure they would. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. and the first Sedleigh _v_. The messenger did not know. regretfully agreed.C. and would be glad if Mike would step across. wandering back to the house. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. Mike. he worked at it both in and out of school. Mr." said Psmith. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. had not confided in him. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. 'Psmith is baffled. M. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. If he wants you to stop to tea. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. At least.C. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. approaching Adair. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. captain. You come and have a shot. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. without looking up.'" ."Yes. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. Downing. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. match was accordingly scratched. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. I had a letter from Strachan." he said at last. after hanging about dismally. and went off. After which the M. Mike and Psmith. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. they would. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. That's the worst of being popular. And they aren't strong this year. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. The two teams. leaving Psmith. if you like. So they've got a vacant date. the captain. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house.

do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. "My dear man. I believe he's off his nut. The thing's a stand-off. "I didn't. Give you a nice start in life. As far as I can see. dash it. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did." said Mike shortly. you know all about that. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. pretty nearly."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. But. by the way?" asked Psmith." "Evidence!" said Mike." "He thinks I did it." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't." said Psmith. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "_Did_ you. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. He as good as asked me to. "No. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. "Me. . "Which it was." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act." said Mike warmly." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. he's been crawling about." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly." "I know.

Be a man. 'tis not blood." "I don't know what the game is. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives.Why. it was like this. and reach up the chimney. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him." he said mournfully." said Psmith.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. "your boot. Of course I've got two pairs. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER." "It is true. Get it over." said Psmith. with a dull. . "It _is_." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. sickening thud. In my simple zeal. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. It must have been the paint-pot. But what makes him think that the boot. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. It is red paint. "Say on!" "Well. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. but one's being soled. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather." "Yes." Psmith sighed. That's how he spotted me. That's what makes it so jolly awkward." said Mike. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. kneeling beside the fender and groping. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. Psmith listened attentively. and it's nowhere about. I have landed you. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it." said Psmith. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. so he thinks it's me. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. if any. right in the cart. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. "Comrade Jackson. and glared at it. meaning to save you unpleasantness. and is hiding it somewhere. you were with him when he came and looked for them.

I say. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. "It _is_ a tightish place. and go out and watch the dandelions growing." he said. are the same. The worst of it is. that he is now on the war-path. and he said very well." . and the chap who painted Sammy. and try to get something out of me." said Psmith. I will think over the matter." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. in a moment of absent-mindedness. I hope you'll be able to think of something. inspecting it with disfavour. "quite sufficient. you can't prove an alibi." "Well. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. which was me. This needs thought. by any chance. I hadn't painted his bally dog. I shall get landed both ways. and--well. You see. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. was it?" "Yes. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. I take it. then. when Mike had finished. You had better put the case in my hands. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. in connection with this painful affair. too." "_He'll_ want you to confess. I _am_ in the cart. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. they're bound to guess why." "I suppose not. If I can't produce this boot. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. that was about all. you see. Masters are all whales on confession. so to speak."This. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me." "What exactly." said Mike. he must take steps. I suppose not. That was why I rang the alarm bell. Downing chased me that night. too. or some rot. and I said I didn't care. I can't. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. You never know." Psmith pondered. taking it all round. collecting a gang. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. then. and forgot all about it? No? No." "Probably." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it." asked Psmith. "Not for a pretty considerable time. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." "Possibly. So." "Sufficient." he admitted.

I say. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. Simply stick to stout denial. when Psmith. who had leaned back in his chair." suggested Psmith. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. Smith. You can't beat it." A small boy. Don't go in for any airy explanations." said Psmith encouragingly. "that Mr. "_You're_ all right. Jackson will be with him in a moment. wrapped in thought." he said. He had not been gone two minutes." With which expert advice. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. "Is Mr. and requested to wait." "Ha!" said Mr. and. Downing shortly. "Oh. "They now knock before entering." "I told you so. who had just been told it was like his impudence. it seemed. "An excellent likeness. sir." said Mr." said Psmith." He turned to the small boy. sir." said Psmith. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. heaved himself up again. caught sight of him. at the same dignified rate of progress. "Well. Downing. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. . "See how we have trained them. Thence. Downing which hung on the wall. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner.There was a tap at the door. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. Stout denial is the thing. "Tell Willie." said Mike to Psmith. He was." Mike got up. He was examining a portrait of Mr. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. "All this is very trying. Jackson. "Tell him to write. "Don't go. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. Come in. passed away. he allowed Mike to go on his way. answered the invitation. when the housemaster came in." he added." The emissary departed. The postman was at the door when he got there. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog." said Psmith. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting.

and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Downing. "but----" "Not at all. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. After the first surprise. Downing. would have thought it funny at first. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. The headmaster was just saying. but anybody. "No. sir. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. "Mr." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in." said Psmith. sir. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. it was not Jackson. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. Jackson. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. but boys nearly always do. Downing to see you. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster." said Mr. do not realise this. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. The atmosphere was heavy. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt."I did it. as he sat and looked at Mike." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. Smith. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. as a rule. It was a kid's trick. especially if you really are innocent. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. what it got was the dramatic interruption. except possibly the owner of the dog. As for Psmith . "I do not think you fully realise. who committed the--who painted my dog. and the headmaster. unsupported by any weighty evidence. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. He could not believe it. A voice without said. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. Mr. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. Downing had laid before him. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. "I would not have interrupted you. Masters. felt awkward. It was a boy in the same house. As it happened. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech.

looking at Mr." he said." He had reached the door." said Mr. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. "Certainly. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. sir. sir?" he said. Downing." "Yes. sir. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. "May I go. "Smith!" said the headmaster. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. So Mr.having done it." "No. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. It was Adair. sir. Mike felt. Adair. This was bound to mean the sack. what did you wish to say. who was nodding from time to time. certainly. with calm triumph." said the headmaster. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. Adair. "Ah. "Come in. tell Smith that I should like to see him. "Adair!" . if you are going back to your house." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. "Yes. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. hardly listening to what Mr. we know--. Mike simply did not believe it. Downing----" "It was Dunster. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Well. no. when again there was a knock. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. Mr. Downing was saying. "Oh. Mr. sir." said the Head. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. Downing leaped in his chair. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. as if he had been running. He sat there. Downing. if possible. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. or even thankful. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Jackson. and er--. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent.

I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. sir. and that. sir. "But Adair. He rolled about.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. Downing. but he wasn't in the house. sir. two minutes after Mr. had played a mean trick on him. "Yes. who. It was a . as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. despite the evidence against him. "Adair!" "Yes. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. should be innocent. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. Then I met Smith outside the house. That Mike. Downing's voice was thunderous. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. sir. He has left the school. sir. I'd better tell Mr. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. "Yes." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match." "I see. had left the school at Christmas." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. for a rag--for a joke." "Smith told you?" said Mr. but not particularly startling. But that Adair should inform him. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster." "_Laughed!_" Mr. Why Dunster." said the headmaster. was curious. His brain was swimming. the dog. in the words of an American author. I tried to find Mr." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. sir. was guiltless. Downing at once. and he told me that Mr. Well. And why. sir. Downing. he remembered dizzily. Downing had gone over to see you. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. sir. Downing snorted. too. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed." Mr. of all people? Dunster. if Dunster had really painted the dog. He stopped the night in the village. that Psmith. perhaps. sir.

sir?" "Sit down. Smith is waiting in the hall." "Yes." "H'm. sir. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. Downing. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. while it lasted. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation." said the headmaster. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. He arrived soon after Mr. Mr. "You wished to see me. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. Outwood's house." he observed. "kindly go across to Mr. "I shall write to him. Barlow. It was not long. though sure of his welcome. He was cheerful." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. sir. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. The door was opened. "It is still raining. feels that some slight apology is expected from him." "Thank you. sir. but slightly deprecating. but." "If you please." "Another freak of Dunster's. If he did not do it. pressing a bell." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. . Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. Smith. He gave the impression of one who." said Mr. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. "Mr." said Mr. as the butler appeared. sir." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient." said the headmaster. Smith. discreditable thing to have done. sir. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men." "In the hall!" "Yes. Ask him to step up. I suppose." "The sergeant. Adair. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it." he said. Downing. Barlow. saying that he would wait. the silence was quite solid.foolish. sir. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking.

Mr. Jackson." he replied sadly. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. sir." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. when a murder has been committed. "how frequently. Downing burst out. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor." proceeded Psmith placidly. When he and Psmith were alone. "Smith." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. Smith--" began the headmaster. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted." "But. sir. sir." he said. Then he went on. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. sir. "Er--Smith. "I should like to see you alone for a moment." . but have you--er. Mr. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. He paused again." He made a motion towards the door. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. "The curse of the present age. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. there was silence. "Er--Smith. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. let us say. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. as a child." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. "Smith. "The craze for notoriety. do you remember ever having had. "Smith." "Yes." "What!" cried the headmaster. "It is remarkable.

I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. sir. Of course." said Adair. it was like this.." "Well. sir. let me hear what you wish to course. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. and then I tore myself away. then. "Well?" said Mike." said Psmith meditatively to himself. Downing's dog. sir.. "but." said the headmaster. Good-night. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves.. never mind that for the present. "It was a very wrong thing to do. Smith. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. Smith. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. You think. That was the whole thing. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. "Well. of course. "You _are_ the limit. You are a curious boy. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. "Not a bad old sort." said the headmaster hurriedly. "By no means a bad old sort. the proper relations boy and--Well. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. "Of course. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. quite so." There was a pause. "What's he done?" "Nothing. For the moment. sir----" Privately. "Good-night. tell nobody.." ." He held out his hand." said Psmith cheerfully. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Smith." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. at last. I shall. but he said nothing. sir. Smith.. We had a very pleasant chat." said Psmith. as he walked downstairs." said Psmith. We later.. of sometimes apt to forget. sir. This is strictly between ourselves. if you do not wish it.

" Psmith's expression was one of pain. "my very best love. I'm surprised at you." "Well." said Mike. for it was a one day match. you're a marvel. "you wrong me. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. "My dear Comrade Jackson. chuck it." "What's that?" asked Psmith." said he. who had led on the first innings. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing." Psmith moaned. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. You make me writhe. Psmith thanked him courteously. all the same. too. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. Adair. I should think they're certain to. They walked on towards the houses. Psmith. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. "Good-night. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. and that Sedleigh had lost." said Psmith. "And it was jolly good of you." said Mike obstinately. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. when you see him. "By the way." said Adair. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." "Well." said Mike. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. There is a certain type of ." "Oh." "And give Comrade Downing." * * * * * "I say. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. I hope the dickens they'll do it." said Mike suddenly. "They've got a vacant date. and Wrykyn. I believe you did. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over." said Adair. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. In a way one might have said that the game was over. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson.

with Barnes not out sixteen. declined to hit out at anything. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. Whereas Wrykyn. Psmith. and the others. and were clean bowled. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. had played inside one from Bruce. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. from time immemorial. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. several of them. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. Unless the first pair make a really good start. the team had been all on the jump. the Wrykyn slow bowler. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. the bulwark of the side. but were not comforted. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. so Adair had chosen to bat first. a collapse almost invariably ensues. but then Wrykyn cricket. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. Adair did not suffer from panic. Stone. Sedleigh had never been proved. as he did repeatedly. assisted by Barnes. Mike. and Mike. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. and. this in itself was a calamity. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. and from whom. on Mike's authority. It was likely to get worse during the day. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. and . that Wrykyn were weak this season. It was useless for Adair to tell them. The team listened. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. and he used it. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. crawled to the wickets. as a rule. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. He had an enormous reach.C. whatever might happen to the others. playing back to half-volleys. with his score at thirty-five. July the twentieth. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. The weather had been bad for the last week. and he had fallen after hitting one four. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Sedleigh. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. Wrykyn had then gone in. Robinson.C. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. for seventy-nine. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. He had had no choice but to take first batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. Experience counts enormously in school matches. with the exception of Adair. Ten minutes later the innings was over.

And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. He treated all the bowlers alike. and lashed out stoutly. at fifteen. having another knock. proceeded to play with caution. A quarter past six struck. Seventeen for three. skied one to Strachan at cover. It doesn't help my . Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. his slows playing havoc with the tail. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. the next pair. with an hour all but five minutes to go. The time was twenty-five past five. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. all but a dozen runs. helped by the wicket. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. their nervousness had vanished. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. two runs later. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. but it was a comfort. As is usual at this stage of a match. was getting too dangerous. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. which was Psmith's. had never been easy. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. They were playing all the good balls. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. The deficit had been wiped off. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. and which he hit into the pavilion. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. But. As Mike reached the pavilion. and the collapse ceased. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. and refused to hit at the bad. Adair declared the innings closed. who had taken six wickets. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. they felt. Psmith got the next man stumped. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. And they had hit. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. And when. restored to his proper frame of mind. at any rate. who had just reached his fifty. So Drummond and Rigby. especially Psmith. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. when Psmith was bowled. and he was convinced that. as they were crossing over. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. And when Stone came in. Changes of bowling had been tried. Adair bowled him. and after him Robinson and the rest. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. But Adair and Psmith. if they could knock Bruce off.

leg-breaks a bit. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left." said Mike. "Still. and chucked it up. and five wickets were down. That's what Adair was so keen on. collapsed uncompromisingly. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. and the tail. "he was going about in a sort of trance." said Psmith. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. when Adair took the ball from him." "He bowled awfully well." said Psmith. got to it as he was falling. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. playing against Wrykyn. the great thing. There were twenty-five minutes to go. you see. he's satisfied. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease." "Yes. Still. Five minutes before. I shall have left. After that the thing was a walk-over. is to get the thing started. "I say. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. Incidentally. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. The batsman. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. diving to the right. hitting out. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. and Mike. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. Adair will have left. I'm glad we won. Sedleigh was on top again. discussing things in general and the game in particular. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Adair's a jolly good sort. was a shade too soon." "I suppose they will. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. and it'll make him happy for weeks. "I feel like a beastly renegade. As a matter of fact. They can get on fixtures with decent . Wrykyn will swamp them. because they won't hit at them." "When I last saw Comrade Adair.

reports. So it's all right." said Psmith.txt or 7423-8. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark. Special rules. by P. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. reflectively. Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works. you see. unless you receive specific permission. what? Let us now sally out and see if we can't promote a rag of some sort in this abode of wrath. Wodehouse *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE *** ***** This file should be named 7423-8. set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook. complying with the rules is very easy." "And. With thanks to Amherst College Library. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.clubs. especially commercial redistribution. by using or distributing this work . "in an emergency they can always get Comrade Downing to bowl for them. Comrade Outwood has gone over to dinner at the School House. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license. performances and research.gutenberg. Shall we stagger?" They staggered. G. besides. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. Jim Tinsley. Shell. Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Produced by Suzanne L. *** START: FULL LICENSE *** THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike. and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks. and it would be a pity to waste a somewhat golden opportunity. Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties. You've got to start somehow. and work up to playing the big schools.

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